Sunday, May 2, 2010

Book Review: Bizarro Western Fistful of Feet by Jordan Krall

Fistful of Feet by Jordan Krall
210 pages
Eraserhead press

Jordan Krall and I have very similar tastes in movies. Horror sure, but we also share a love for brainless 80's action movies and spaghetti schlock, not just Westerns, but Italian zombie and post apocalyptic mad max rip offs. There is a certain vibe you get from watching a a brilliant filmmaker with modest means do the best they can without enough resources. There is a charm to bad but ballsy films, the Italian filmmaker of 60's, 70's and 80's don't give a shit about looking silly that is why they produced some the weirdest movies of the era. (Look up trailers for Raiders of Atlantis, Deep Red, the Beyond, Django movies, After the fall of New York).

Krall has no limitations, certainly he has powerful imagination drips off every page of this short and effective novel. Fistful of Fist is many novels in one, a horror novel, a bizarro novel and most of all it's a spaghetti western. Sure this novel has Cthulhu cult native Americans, sexually transmitted tattoos, pistols that burp when fired and mutants mad from syphilis. It's a bizarro novel no doubt, but the greatest strength of Fistful of feet is that is feels 100% like a western.

There are pages that pass that feel like a straight western novel and I would forget about the bizarro elements. This was really effective because I would get comfortable with the western vibe and some kind of bizarro crazy-ness would come out of nowhere and shock me.

This is rare thing in a bizarro novel, when you crack open a genre novel, doesn't matter the genre it is an absolute pleasure to be tricked consistently throughout the pages. That more than anything else impressed me about this novel. The weird elements managed to still weird me out, thwe balance with a western sorta “realism” was impressive.

The story is about a man named Calamaro walking across the old west pulling his wooden donkey. He happens about Screwhorse Nevada which is the weirdest town in the history of westerns, that is no small feet. It has the corrupt mayor, the town gang led by the town thug, the weird brothel and a saloon and hotel named after Charles Bronson. Krall gets many points for naming the guy running the place Kersey, if you don't get you are not watching enough Bronson.

I dog eared a page (80) because the scene so captured the spirit of the western for me. I cast Lance Hendrickson (Bishop from Aliens) as sheriff in my mind. If there is any weakness in this novel it is not the authors fault but the fault of the genre. Towards the end the novel takes part in the stereotype of the “western movie Indian” when a battle erupts between the townspeople and the savages. Considering the level of tribute Krall could hardly avoid this, it is sadly a trope of the genre.

Fistful of Feet is a excellent western that just happens to be amazingly weird as well. It is also one of the best written works to come out of the bizarro genre, Krall demands attention and I think if he keeps up his Italian genre capture and release program he will go far.

Yeah read Fisftul of Feet is must read for spaghetti western fans. Get it!

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