When Justin Grimbol asked me to take a look at his Bizarro novel, The Crud Masters, I really had no idea what to expect. My exposure to the genre was very limited, and consisted really of only having read Adam Pepper’s Super Fetus – a hilariously inappropriate book of massively entertaining proportions. I’d never read anything else like it, and was pretty hard pressed to gather my wits about me to check out another piece from this little known, but tight-knit group of strange authors.
Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I never really intended to read another piece of Bizarro Fiction again, what with the amount of insane horror fare being thrown at me from everyone else. I really didn’t want for anything.
But now I do.
I’m painfully happy that Grimbol brought his novel to my attention. Not only was it a blast to read, but it has opened my eyes to a whole new genre of fiction that I otherwise may not have had a chance to enjoy.
With a swagger that screams of confidence, a story full of imagination on an epic scale, and a winning-but-strange concept, Justin Grimbol may have just created one of the best coming of age novels of 2011, or all time… even though it’s weird as hell.
THE OUTSIDERS-WITH GIANT MONSTERS AND TRANSFORMING ROBOTS!
You know that book about the poor kids and the rich assholes who mess with them all the time? The one where the main poor kid (C. Thomas Howell) and his best friend save those kids from a fire, and then the best friend (Ralph Macchio) dies and croaks out, “Stay gold, Pony Boy.” And there’s that rich girl, Cherry, who totally leads Pony Boy on the whole time? This is that! But with giant monsters and robots fighting in the rumbles. And its in The Hamptons. In a dystopian future. Its crazy!
Giant monster fights, touching love with sexbots and stinky women, extreme body modification, and Boogers, the guy who’s sorta like Pony Boy, but gross and perverted-its all right here.
The Crud Masters is equal parts The Outsiders and some strange amalgamation of a Russ Meyer and Roger Corman film. The imagery is, like Grimbol’s choice of descriptive words, vivid as hell, causing the characters to leap off the page in a delightfully weird interpretive dance, landing straight in the reader’s face with a slimy splat. Some of the concepts and themes in this book might be shocking to those who are unfamiliar with the bizarro genre, but it should be noted that these stories are written to emphasize maximum entertainment and WTF factors. Having said that, it’s Grimbol’s characters and monsters that steal the show here.
Leading the story on its journey is Boogers, the appropriately named member of The Crud Masters, in that he has a sinus problem that makes it seem like he has a perpetual cold. Boogers’ sarcasm and wit are backed up by his obviously genuine caring for his crew and the things he holds dear. He’s joined by Snuggles, a portly and kind loser; Soda Can, a hyperactive, outdated Sexbot who torments people by shooting fake semen out of his boot penis… to hilarious results; The Bart, the resident ‘tough guy’ who has a penchant for brutality, yet has surprisingly deep feelings; The Bart’s girlfriend, Clitty, who is, by all accounts, a devoted woman; and Pussy Bear. Now, in a strange turn, Pussy BEar is actually a human female, but she’s had so many body modifications that she actually looks like a gigantic bear… well… apart from the face and the large, floppy breasts hanging off her chest. Fulfilling a twisted West Side Story kind of plot, we have the NOLA kids as the Crud Masters’ enemies. They’re obnoxious, they’re rich, and they’re the Prog Rock to the Crud’s punk rock.
And yes… all of these characters are active and alive in the story. I told you this was gonna get weird.
Rest assured, Grimbol plays the entire thing straight, never once going more over-the-top that the story allows him. Sure there’s a gigantic monster/Transformer battle at the end, but that’s what this bastard child of a legion of insane people calls for. And while we’re on that subject, let’s talk about the monsters. Grimbol lays some seriously screwed up visions on the reader here. We’re looking at everything from crab claws to massive teeth, blasting acidic spit and other deadly bodily fluids. Fun stuff! There’s a massive monster battle about 5 or so chapters into the novel that is perfect. I read it twice. The author writes so fluidly in these situations, making every punch thrown count and every bite harder than it could possibly be elsewhere. Grimbol’s got a killer sense of action, folks.
I could imagine all of these monsters as demented puppets or stuffed animals for deranged kids. But that’s just my inane imagination getting ahold of this. Let’s move on… (note to self – ask Grimbol about making puppets for demented children…)
I’ve got to say, after Grimbol sets up the entire story in the first four chapters, it’s almost like he gave himself a huge playground to go nuts with. It’s apparent that he had a ton of fun authoring this piece of insanity. There’s really a lot more that can be said about this novel. With Grimbol cutting his teeth on such a hugely ambitious novel, I can bet we’re going to see some amazing things out of him in the future. The Crud Masters is almost always go-go-go action, but when it’s not running at full speed, it’s setting the tone of weirdness that any bizarro fan is going to love.
And the hugely insane Monster-Transformer battle at the end of the novel is more than worth the price alone.
Go catch this blisteringly fast-paced novel at Amazon in Paperback and for your Kindle. Visit Justin Grimbol online at his blog, His Cock Is Money, and check out Eraserhead Press for more Bizarro Fiction. If you’re interested in more Bizarro than you can shake a stick at, visit the online community known as Bizarro Central. That place is awesome.