Vacation by Jeremy C. Shipp
159 pages, Raw Screaming Dog Press
Vacation is the tale of Bernard Johnson, a teacher who leaves his boring life to go on a year long corporate sponsored trip. Shortly after leaving he falls for a transsexual who he discovers was one of his most hated students back when she was a boy. Sound strange? We have not even touched the tip of the iceberg. Bernard is captured by terrorists and is drafted into secret drug war battles. The book has the label Science fiction from the publisher on the back cover, it is however much stranger than your average Science Fiction. It has elements of horror for sure, Humor, politics and is provocative.
Jeremy C. Shipp has done something truly fantastic. I love the growing Bizzaro movement; the world needs a literature underground with stories about post nuclear warriors in cockroach suits* and time travelers being vomited through time by Giraffes**. I enjoy the off-the wall nature of the books. Most of the genre has its tongue planted firmly in cheek and the humor is one of the things most exciting about Bizzaro. This book takes the genre to a whole new level.
That is not to say it hasn’t been done before in Bizarro. No two Bizarro authors are alike it is not enough in this genre just to write something original daring and different to se yourself apart. No one writes like Gina Ranalli but her. No one writes like Jeremy Robert Johnson but him. So what sets Shipp at the top with this novel?
Jeremy Shipp is not filling space he has written an original fine tuned freak fest that has many levels to it. He is a talented writer who has written a whacky novel that is not only Bizzaro but it rises to the level of literature. I don’t mean this as an insult to anyone in the genre but this is a book that could break out of the underground ghetto.
While the pages go by you will find reality bending in the same way that the best of Phil K. Dick’s novels do. You will not only be wondering about what is coming in the story but the nature of the reality you engulfed in. One thing is for sure this book is worth the money.
When you close the book for the last time you may not feel as though you can put every piece in the puzzle but the picture you do have will be fascinating. This is a book that begs to be re-experienced each time you dive in and peel a layer off the onion you’ll get a different flavor.
*Extinction Journals by Jeremy Robert Johnson
** It came from Below the Belt by Bradley Sands