Postcards From a Dying World
News, views, book reviews and commentary from the Science Fiction and Horror fiction underground. Home of the Wonderland award nominated author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Book Review: Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Paperback, 344 pages
Published February 2015 by Lazy Fascist Press
Let me get this out of the way. I am bias as hell about this book. When I first moved to Portland I lived a few blocks away from Jeremy. Even when I moved to a different neighborhood it was along the same Powell ave. and I often saw Jeremy out for run. So I root for the guy. Look we are close to the same age and got into horror and punk rock in similar ways in different small towns in different states. I consider watching Prince of Darkness on the big screen at the Lovecraft fest with him to be a bonding experience.
All that said I think he is an amazing writing with far too few releases to his name. That makes each one from his two short story collections (We Live Inside you & Angel dust Apocalypse) and his amazing Bram Stoker nominated Siren Promised (A novel he co-wrote with the artist Alan Clark) So special. In all the time I have known JRJ he had hinted at the novel in progress Skullcrack city. The plot he explained was so weird and spit out in motor mouth fashion that I asked about every time I saw him from bizarrocon to running into him at super cuts where the hell is it?
It was worth the wait. I am bias sure but I take my role as critic seriously. I have given a one star review to a friend before. So believe me when I say this is a hybrid dark bizarro science fiction horror freak out masterpiece. I do not say this lightly, and I mean it. JRJ has really crafted something special here. It is weird, really weird but not in the Dildo joke way a lot of bizarro stuff tends to do. Jeremy is a great writer with precise prose that doesn’t make for a quick read because you don’t want to miss anything.
This book is like nothing else you have ever read but everyone loves a comparison right? JRJ wears his influences on his sleeve but not to crutch level. If you forced me to I would say it felt like a way weirder take on Carpenter’s They Live if William Burroughs and Clive Barker worked on the script and Cronenberg directed.
The story of SP Doyle a weirdo turn corporate who accidently develops a career working at a bank. He is overseeing loans and getting a behind the scenes look at the corporate world. The corruption is one thing, but Doyle is corrupted himself. He has a habit that involves an expeimental drug called Hex. It makes him feel powerful and at the same time opens another reality. Once there that is when the DNA-doped mutants, drug-addled freak show celebs, experimental surgeons, depraved doomsday cults, and drug freak-outs get going.
Chapter 20 is the best chapter in the novel, and for whatever reason everything from that point was like a spinal tap amp turned to 11. Skullcrack City started to make my ears bleed and I loved it. This book is political but not like leaflet. It is funny, but doesn’t descend into parody of itself. It is well written and well told. I would be super surprised if it was not top of my list of reads for the year when 2015 is over.
Now Jeremy…Skullcrack City is all that and a bag of chocolate chips. I am here-by telling all fans of weird, horror and Science Fiction to read. Don’t make us wait this long for the next one.