Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Review The Day Before by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow

The Day Before By John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow
135 pages
Bad Moon books (Limited edition)

A couple years back an anthology was announced called "A Nation of Ash" it was supposed to be a shared universe with several big names in the horror field putting together stories in an America destroyed by nuclear war. I was very excited for this book because post apoc is my favorite horror sub-genre but it was set to feature a novella length piece by the new writing duo John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow. John Skipp is the NY times bestselling author of several 80's horror novels that are considered splatterpunk classics. He also co-wrote a Nightmare on Elm Street film and the novelization of fright night.

After years of teaming with Craig Spector Skipp spent the 90's going solo and writing excellent novels like the "Long Last Call" and the fantastic collection “Conscience.” He has been trying for year to get a film off the ground and recent made the decision that he had a partner for prose again.

Cody Goodfellow was brilliant and perfect choice for Skipp. They were born to be a team, one only has to watch them have a conversation to see they will make brilliantly insane horror fiction together. Alone They write the kinda books that deserve protective gear and would give Tipper Gore a reason to call congressional hearings so here we go with their second book together.

The first was Jake's Wake, that was Skipp idea that he had penned as screenplay before before Cody added his half of the ingredients to the book. The day before represents the first Skipp and Goodfellow book that was spitballed by the team. To say I was excited to read it is an understatement.

The story begins six months after warheads rain down upon America and end life as we have known it. Hollywood elites who were vacationing off the the so cal coast on Catalina island, their staffs and personal trainers as well ride out the apocalypse in somewhat of a peace until they raided by the navy for their food and supplies. Things are looking bleak for our narrator, writer director Peter Kornberg who was on the island working on his comeback script.

He is ready to waste away when a submarine shows up captained by producer Julian Harvey. He was the producer who can canned Kornberg from a film, but now he was here with a crew and an offer. Write and direct the last film of the human race as the world dies around them. So that is what they do in the crater that was once LA Kornberg struggles like a post nuke Coppla to finish his apocalypse now. His crew have to fight off biker gangs, his leading actors are so filled with radiation their hair is coming out and still he is getting stupid notes from his producer.

What can I say about a book that is a third Road Warrior with the other two thirds being like Doctor Strangelove and Tropic Thunder. This short but fantastic satire of all things LA whose biggest short coming is it's short length. In short snappy chapters the day before is quick read that balances dark and comic tones throughout. Sure there are silly and hilarious chapters like the one where an army dude steps on a mine trying to prove he is the post nuclear Chuck Norris to poignant statements on LA's car culture.

“Los Angeles was our beloved whore-goddess,and she lingers on each of our heads, showing us what we wished for, all those thousands of gridlocked hours of godless prayer.”

Perhaps my favorite part comes when they are visited by another filmmaker to survive the war, Adrian Seele who is a not so thinly veiled Michael Bay. He arrived on a helicopter blasting motorhead and tries to hijack Peter and Harvey's film crew. I love the idea that he buys black market award statues and melts them down in a statue of a middle finger.

This novella is middle finger to Hollywood, I am not sure it will help Skipp get in good graces with Hollywood. But man I would be first in line to see a film of this. For fans of cheap italian end of the world movies where a few nuclear warheads are all that stands between civilization and roving mohawked cannibal gangs in spiked muscle cars you have found your novel.

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