Archive for Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Steve Lowe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by royalmanaball

I’m really high on codeine right now, so bear with me. It’s not for recreational purposes, I swear, but that’s not important. Shoot, I’ve been listening to Spacemen 3 all night and I think they are pretty awesome. Right, then…

When it comes to Bizarro fiction, a reader can experience anything from demonic pancake assaults to rabid unicorn attack battalions. This genre offers real treats for a consumer in a literary sea of trite, overdone plots, glittering vampires and, well, a bunch of zombies. Fucking lame. But not all Bizarro needs to be fantastical on its surface. Sometimes the very characters themselves and their behaviors are irreal enough to garner a Bizarro badge of merit.

Steve Lowe is an author whose works fall in this latter category. Lowe’s characters tend to suffer odd circumstances – people who fall into a doughnut hole of absurdity – thus thrusting them into situations that only this writer’s mind could devise.

The man. The meat.

The man. The meat.

Despite these strange events, Lowe’s stories are more character driven. Prepare to read tales about a neighborhood that wakes up one morning to find their sexual partners’ identities have been swapped. Enjoy the life of a pushover who competes in a game that not only stretches his limits, but the limits of sex in general; not to mention a case where a slacker awakens to find he has morphed into a three-toed sloth.

As said, Lowe’s novels are character-centric and this factor makes you care for them all the more. No matter how abject their behaviors (oh, and they can be disgusting), Lowe always injects a tenderness in every one featured, and it’s no wonder that his plots usually deal with the theme of personal change and redemption.

Lowe is very well aware that modern life can suck a sweaty peen for most. With his finger on the pulse of today’s society, he acknowledges that Middle American existence is, by default, bizarre.

The following is a quick glance of all of his books (to my knowledge) that are available for purchase and you can find them right now on Amazon and other fine book vendors:

Muscle Memory: This book answers the question of what happens when you have an inexplicable switcheroo of being with your nearest and dearest. Yes, one character does swap identities with a barnyard animal. Deal with it.

King of the Perverts: Loved this book. Erotica subverted. Dennis is the ultimate mangina whose wife hates his guts. Being newly unemployed, he decides to participate in a reality show where he vies to become king of the perverts for cash and prizes. Under duress and coercion by East-Euro brute “Mongo,” Denny must endure one vile sexual encounter after another from blumpkins to Alabama Hot Pockets. My only complaint is that Lowe left out the Romanian Rollercoaster and the Polish Bikeride. Whatever.


Samurai Vs. Robo-Dick: Benson opts out of society and won’t leave his parent’s basement. A take on the monomyth, one day, he is coaxed out of the house only to find that the world has suffered some sort of apocalypse and the only “safe” place left is the stupid, suburbanoid gated community in which he squats. He’s forced to take a shitty job with the neo-Fascist neighborhood watch and things get worse for Benson from there.

Mio Padre, il Tumore: Ciao Bella! This book is probably my favorite. This tale is basically a spaghetti western set in… Northern Indiana?!?!? Yes, blend The Godfather, Sergio Leone flicks, Henenlotter’s Basket Case and some Lucio Fulci. Now, set it to a soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti and you have a fine tale of bizarre revenge. Very suspenseful and a departure from some of Lowe’s usual gross-out fare. I really enjoyed this and could see it being directed by Cronenberg one day. So, if you want something a little more sober, this might be a good book of Lowe’s catalog to begin with.

You Are SLOTH!: You wake up one day from your subsistence slackerhood and realize that you are SLOTH! Yes, in a Kafka-esque turn of absurdity, you have transformed into one of God’s stupidest animals next to the platypus. This tale really maximizes great characters and wonderful dialog. It had me in stitches! My favorite denizen of these pages is pussy-begging, PUA asswipe Chris Cross. His banter and one-liners are worth every penny of the purchase. Beware the “death-by-bukkake” part.

A freelance sports reporter by day, Lowe’s books don’t focus on sports, but I would love to see him tackle such a saga sometime in the future. Like, a fucked-up rendition of Slapshot (one of my fave movies) or some such thing. You can do it, Steve. You can do it!

-30, bitches!-


Author Spotlight: Sam Pink

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2013 by royalmanaball

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead won’t say “hello.”

I do not like green eggs and ham..

I do not like green eggs and ham…

Chicago is one of those places that simply does things its own way. Sure, every city on Earth has its local flavor and color, but the Windy City has the power to make things happen. Its seminal force is strong and the town possesses a track record to prove it. Industrial, post-rock, post-jazz, house and acid house all have been spawned within her city limits.

There’s just something about this burg that bends rules and pushes envelopes, but not in a “more and faster,” vertical fashion. A concept might erupt in New York, L.A. or London but once it hits Chicago – well, anything goes. The artform in question will be indistinguishable from its maiden article.

Sam Pink is an author that casts all care to the wind (pun intended) and writes from what little is left of his heart. As one Amazon reviewer had claimed, his writing “makes you feel kind of icky.”

Mr. Pink’s work is of the “Bizarro” genre (whatever that means anymore) and, yes, it’s very bizarre, yet so goddamn real that you have to wonder what in the hell happened to the American society in the last twenty years. Pink’s books actually hurt to read, and because of that, his mission is accomplished. You now have the opportunity to feel something in a world that has neutralized you.

On the topic of Chicago, Sam paints the city as a character within itself. The “L,” actual named eateries and cornershops are all present here. The streets exist here as well, and if you live in Chicago, you can actually map out where his characters are walking.

Before, I’ve stated that Andersen Prunty may be the Graham Greene of the 21st Century, but Sam Pink is its Charles Bukowski. But you have to remember, Sam lives in a different time and economy than that of Chuck. As such, he will filter his experiences in accordance to those factors. The characters that populate his pages all suffer the same lives as the protagonist and everybody is a loser, but it’s a similar mentality nonetheless. There’s no conflict of “us vs. them.” All here share the same leaking boat. It’s not about drugs or booze or any lavish parade of self-destruction. It just is.

God, the dialog! It’s so painful to read it, but this is what people actually sound like! When I go to the checkout at my local Dominick’s, I equate the brainless chatter of the cashiers with my equally-mindless responses. Sam captures this moronic parlay to a “T.”

Plotwise, there really isn’t such in any of his books. Well, the formats aren’t rendered in some Dadaist cut-up a ’la Burroughs or Ballard, they’re quite digestible, but Pink treats you to a slice of life for the main character’s day and nothing more. The plots almost poke fun at the concept of character development, because true progress is not allowed in his world. The protagonist finishes these “tales” exactly where he begins – nowhere.

I’ve read plenty of blogs and articles about character development and how to render a character. Yes, Pink’s stories are character-driven, but the prime directives for these people rendered are to make contact with someone. In every attempt the “hero” tries to accomplish his task, it ends in a hermetic fantasy that no one will ever have the opportunity to enjoy but the reader. A schizoid ballet with only one dancer.

Bottom line: Sam Pink writes zombie novels, but novels that feature real zombies – you!

Look, I know some of you Manaballers may feel insulted by that last line (“How dare you! I’ve supped on dog meat in Kuala Lumpur! I speak fluent Albanian! I’m no zombie”), but others will relate spot-on with these notions once devouring a Pink novel. So, with that, I apologize. Well, not really… Fuck you.

But emotions are a central theme to the entirety of his catalog, and Pink captures them with such Zen grace. Fear, hate, anger and anticipation. All of these hopes for such experiences are crushed by the main character’s ego and, perhaps, medication? As stated above, everyone featured here is neutralized. Feelings are simply not allowed in his works by an invisible, unwritten law. Break it, and you could die. But maybe if I just try to…

Back when I was a state-sponsored therapist, I was instructed to teach my clients (captives) to cope. Not to deal with their issues, mind you, but to cope. Coping is a word that implies inactivity. To put up with it all. The prose of Sam Pink perfectly illustrates the lives of people who are putting up with it, whether they know it or not.


Below is a survey of Sam’s remarkable books that I have read:

The Self-Esteem Holocaust Comes Home – More of a detached foray into writing, every story is like a rejected screenplay, but one that you secretly wish was produced.

Rontel – Not going to spoil the surprise of who “Rontel” is. Just read it.

The No Hellos Diet – The main character is YOU. Time to “live.”

Person – Five stars. Amazing.

You Hear Ambulance Sounds and Think They Are for You – A Poetry/prose hybrid. But they aren’t for you. Promise.

Hurt Others – Just don’t. Well, maybe…

Check out Sam’s site right hereCrown Yourself Then Kill Yourself!

Author Spotlight: James Roy Daley

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2012 by royalmanaball

Author, musician and Books of the Dead Press impresario James Roy Daley is featured this transmission.

Daley is a talent in the horror business who will one day, and soon, sweep the genre and steer it into a new direction.

When I was a little kid, I had always loved that song The Monster Mash. As corny as it may sound today, it conjured up the coolest amalgam of horror that a child of my bravery could muster. Vampires, werewolves, Franken-monsters and zombies all having a wild party – and you’re invited.

JR does the same, but there is no hokey levity to any of his yarns.

Now, I’ve read some detractors plead that he should choose a genre and stick with it, but why should he? He can take a plot that begins with a mass murder, shove it into inter-dimensional damnation and then twist it into solipsistic, gothic horror. And it works!

This mix isn’t hackneyed Freddie Versus Jason dreck, but more like the mindbending insanity of Cemetery Man.

The focal point of his horror is the resort town of Cloven Rock. I believe it’s off Lake Superior on the Canadian side, but that doesn’t matter. All of his stories somehow generate from this locale and tangentially branch from thereout.

No boogeyman is too much for this author to spin into some of the most soul-crushing renditions of terror, and if you like gore, he doesn’t skimp on the red stuff. Or the green. Or black, for that matter. I hope he never writes a pop-up book, because it would leave you covered in stinking grue by the last page.

Featured works include:

Terror Town – It’s what I consider his magnum oPUS. I capped pus, because there’s plenty of it within the pages. Good gods! If you ever wanted to know what spawned vampires, you’ll have your answer here. The worst monster is a very human serial killer. He’s so terrible that Albert Fish would be like: “Damn, dude! Chill out!” The Joker has been considered to be one of the top-five biggest baddies in literary history, but at least the Joker is loveable if you’re an anarchist. This person of interest in Terror Town is so vile that I found myself wanting to hop into my Kindle and kick this guy’s ass. Unfortunately, I would lose because he’s so damn LUCKY! And this factor makes you hate him all the more as to where you will root for the vamps overrunning the town. I mean, this book really pissed me off just for him alone and I have to give it five stars on that.

The Dead Parade – Take that Zuni fetish from Trilogy of Terror and turn it into your best friend when you have to go up against a Satanic shit-gang of amoral lunatics. Oh yeah, and the town gets destroyed in the process.

Zombie Kong – So King Kong gets zombified. It happens. As a Cloven Rock suburb is trampled by his disintegrating, pustulating corpse, a service-sector ne’er-do-well who has yet to get laid decides to take advantage of this crisis and go on a rampage. The Forty-Year-Old Virgin subverted.

I had already reviewed his novel Into Hell on an earlier post which focuses on a woman’s descent into Old Scratch’s domain. You gotta read it.

This Canuck has horror on the brain and he even writes songs about it. Here we have a talent who loves this genre and so much so that he dedicates his entire soul to it and you’ll be sure to enjoy being disgusted as much as he does when you read.

I just HAD to add this tune by the Misfits because it perfectly describes what you will experience while you try to read this mighty man’s wordsmithing –

I promise – All hell breaks loose in every one of this writer’s purchases.

Author Spotlight – Andersen Prunty

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 1, 2012 by royalmanaball

I am going to try this exercise out for now. Author spotlights which focus on writers I have been following. My first in the stable is Andersen Prunty.


Wow. This guy is a forerunner of the Bizarro movement. Bizarro is a writing genre which cares nothing for conformity in any way, shape or form. Expect pop culture references (BAD ones) and squids, porn, poop, failure, and heartbreak.

Prunty knows these attributes well and sculpts his tales like a post-po-mo Giacometti or a tarnished Brancusi. He fears no subject matter and no taboo is sacred.  While reading, enjoy disgusting sex, chronic alcoholism, Satanism, retardation, body odor, foul fluids and a crushing sense of oppression that you cannot pinpoint but in a nightmare.

These topics are all written with a spoonful of love. Sincere love.

Andersen hates what you hate, but are afraid to voice. Likewise, he loves what you are ashamed to lust for.

The Undead American Male, cuckolding, depression, oppression, abuse, racism, anti-racism, suicide, and hopeless plans for self-improvement are all fair game within his pages.

I’ve stated before that he is a Graham Greene of the 21st century, and I will not say that lightly. Many Bizarro authors will spin yarns that heap on piles upon piles of confusion-soaked gore and nonsense from the safety of their honeyed retreats, but Andersen Prunty is not afraid of his pain – or yours!

His books are Tex Avery cartoons that will make you cry. They are Disney productions that just may result in suicide.

This is not horror.  This is what you may feel when the lights go out and your bad day continues into Dreamland.

The best books are:

Overwhelming Urge – a survey into Prunty’s flash fiction. This tome gives you a good look at what he writes and what you can expect from some of his meatier compositions.

Fuckness – A chronicle of a poor child thrust on an adventure to save himself from a world that hates him. A  Lord of the Rings where Mount Doom is right in your backyard.

Jack and Mr. Grin – Why did you love her? Was she worth it?

Fill the Grand Canyon and Live Forever – Pick yourself up and kill the system.  Just wean yourself off Xanax and Wendy’s hamburgers first.

Zerostrata – Your family is full of shit.

Satanic Summer – Are you pitching for the right team? Is there one in the first place or do both forces serve the same foul master? You must decide for yourself by the end. Maybe you’re just gullible.

The Sorrow King  – Suicide may not be your decision. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but why?

Some of his books are not so heavy. Slag Attack, although steeped in subtext, is a post-apocalyptic survival romp and The Sex-Beast of Scurvy Island is a pornographic parody of porn-culture and Scooby-Doo.

Here we have an author to be reckoned with. He is able to take Bizarro and give such an inhuman movement humanity and I feel that is where he rises above so many of the writers in this stable. Take Lloyd Kauffman plus Harmony Korine and fuse him with David Lynch and Gaspar Noe. A true Breughel of the 21st century.

If you don’t know who any of these directors are – You suck!


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The desires of the heart and soul expressed through words.

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Publisher of Speculative Fiction Anthologies


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Author Allen

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Chicago-area publishing-related people, events, and gigs

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half-writer, half-monster.

Black Adagio

A supernatural thriller about a cursed ballet

Jeremy C. Shipp

writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction

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