NBAS ’11: The Crud Masters by Justin Grimbol

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.

From Amazon:

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.

STAY GOLD.

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.

C.

Dreadful Tales Gets Weird

Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve read no less than 12 insanely off-the-wall books I’ve ever seen. That’s a lot to digest in such a short amount of time, approximately something like 1200 (or more) pages of the weirdest shit you’ve ever laid your eyes on. And that’s also on top of the books I’ve checked out in the mean-time, and the 100 years of Horror articles.

And sleeping.

And eating.

Not books… eating food.

Though… I could eat books…

Never mind. Eating books is a bad idea right now.

Especially after the announcement I’m about to make, and mostly cause I’m nervous about this.

What’s the announcement? Well, I’m sure you can see that the site has taken on a bit of a… different… look today.

That’s because we’re trying something different with our design (which will be ongoing for a little while) and celebrating Bizarro Fiction for the next 9 days here on Dreadful Tales! (January 23rd to the 31st)

Now, one might ask what exactly Bizarro Fiction is:

According to the most informative website on the genre, Bizarro Central‘s ‘About Bizarro’ page:

What Is Bizarro?

  1. Bizarro, simply put, is the genre of the weird.
  2. Bizarro is literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store.
  3. Like cult movies, Bizarro is sometimes surreal, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes goofy, sometimes bloody, sometimes borderline pornographic, and almost always completely out there.
  4. Bizarro strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.
  5. Bizarro often contains a certain cartoon logic that, when applied to the real world, creates an unstable universe where the bizarre becomes the norm and absurdities are made flesh.
  6. Bizarro was created by a group of small press publishers in response to the increasing demand for (good) weird fiction and the increasing number of authors who specialize in it.
  7. Bizarro is like:
    • Franz Kafka meets John Waters
    • Dr. Suess of the post-apocalypse
    • Takashi Miike meets William S. Burroughs
    • Alice in Wonderland for adults
    • Japanese animation directed by David Lynch

Even though the Bizarros are underground cult outsiders they still have gained an incredible amount of respect in the publishing industry, having been praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, Piers Anthony, Cory Doctorow, Poppy Z. Brite, Michael Moorcock, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, as well as the publications Asimov’s Science-fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-fiction, Fangoria, Cemetery Dance, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Details Magazine, Gothic Magazine, and The Face, among many others. They have also been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Wonderland Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

Bizarro isn’t just weird fiction, it is DAMN GOOD weird fiction. And it grows exponentially every single day, so, love it or hate it, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the years to come.

We’re excited to bring you a look at 8 new bizarro novels from Eraserhead Press, and specifically from the minds of the New Bizarro Authors Series folks (henceforth know as the NBAS ’11) who fill the 2011 lineup. For those of you who don’t know, this is a series Eraserhead Press has started in order to bring some fresh blood to the genre. Here’s the idea behind the NBAS:

You hold in your hands now a book from the New Bizarro Author Series. Normally, Eraserhead Press publishes twelve books a year. Of those, only one or two are by new writers. The NBAS alters this dynamic, thus giving more authors of weird fiction a chance at publication. For every book published in this series, the following will be true: This is the author’s first published book. We’re testing the waters to see if this author can find a readership, and whether or not you see more Eraserhead Press titles from this author is up to you. The success of this author is in your hands. If enough copies of this book aren’t sold within a year, there will be no future books from the author published by Eraserhead Press. So, if you enjoy this author’s work and want to see more in print, we encourage you to help him out by writing reviews of his book and telling your friends. In any event, hope you enjoy…

Given the guidelines there, and the fact that I was contacted to review one of the books, I wanted to lend a little more than a helping hand. I’m a huge fan of bizarre tales and upstart authors, and it’s no sweat off my back to read a few hundred pages and talk about it. So for the next bunch of days you’re going to be checking out the weirdest that the genre has to offer (with other stuff peppered in), and reading about some of the fresh blood bursting onto the scene.

With that, let’s welcome Justin Grimbol, Vince Kramer, Constance Ann Fitzgerald, Troy Chambers, Spike Marlowe, Michael Allen Rose, Eric Beeny, and S.D. Foster to the fold. This week is gonna be weird