In 2003, my cousin died in a car accident. I received the news while loafing around in New Mexico. I had traveled there earlier in the year, and, after a brief stint in Las Vegas, felt lost. But I had left Indiana—hopefully—for good, and I was determined to start a new life somewhere else. Jobless and low on money, I resisted giving in. I resisted going home.
Then news of his death arrived, and it hit me hard. I felt isolated. My determination to stay transformed into a desire to leave, to go back home, to spend time with my friends and family. To fill the hole my cousin had left.
Although he was a year younger than me, we grew up together—and we were close: we made the same mistakes together, tried alcohol and pot together, developed a similar sense of humor, and developed similar tastes in movies and music, in pop culture in general.
Rage filled me when he died, and I felt the urge to write about it. I tried and failed several times before I hit on the opening chapter of Bastard Virtues. My desire to honor my cousin gave way to my anger and rage, which consumed me whenever I thought about his death. Early on, I realized the novel wasn’t about him as much as it was about my anger, my rage, my sadness—emotions transformed into themes which dominated the novel.
On embracing the anger and rage, I decided to pick influences for the novel which reflected my relationship with my cousin. Some of the influences are mine alone, and reflect nothing more than my preoccupations at the time. Other influences, however, represent shared interests between my cousin and me.
Hunter S. Thompson
Thompson’s influence is apparent early on in the novel, the opening section of which was inspired by The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. Although Thompson’s story meant nothing to my cousin, it was a starting off point for me. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas connected my cousin and me to Thompson, which is what inspired the setting early in the novel. Thompson’s cynicism and vitriol hit a nerve with us when we were teenagers; it was the language we had already used, and in Thompson we’d found a sort of spiritual guide. Continue reading
Rooster Republic Press proudly presents the highly-anticipated sequel to Grudge Punk…
The King of Eyes is dead. Long live the King.
The Grudge just ain’t what she used to be. In the aftermath of a bloody mob war, the city is without a kingpin, but not short of hoods spoiling to claim the title. Into the fray steps Lieutenant Sternhammer, of the reviled and corrupt Grudgehaven Police Department.
His mission: rebuild the reputation of his fellow cops and re-establish their dominance in the eyes of the public. His target: the cunning and ruthless gangster, Chupa Junior. His battleground: Chupatown, the worst slum in the city.
No easy task, even without all those other little complications, like headless jazz musicians, duplicitous pimps, a serial killer targeting gold-hearted women and whatever strange, powerful mystery lurks within the bowels of…
New to Grudge Punk?…
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—So tell me why you’re here.
—I’m tired. Not exhausted, but … just, I don’t know, tired.
Sarah’s wearing that gray face sad people wear, that mask with dead eyes looks like an unpainted statue.
—Can you describe it? “Tired” is so …
—I didn’t want no attention, she says. —Some people, I think, will think I did it for attention. But it wasn’t attention I wanted. Continue reading
If literature were a person, it’d be in a vegetative state. Nothing new is said, nothing new is to be learned, nothing new is offered—the appearances might change but the forms remain the same.
A cliche persists in our culture that if you want to change the system you must first become part of the system. This is an illusion meant to persuade people to embrace the system; it’s designed to inculcate conformity.
Like our culture, literature itself is homogenized while taking on the appearance of heterogeny.
In an image-obsessed culture, appearances are everything.
Another cliche with which we’re familiar warns us to refrain from judging a book by its cover. In reality, we should judge a book by its form. Form should supersede appearances. But in accordance with our species, a peculiar mammal with the cognitive ability to process and model information linearly, the form remains the same while the appearances change.
In an age of movies and television, video games and the internet, things must change. Literature cannot excel at telling linear stories the way visual media can; instead, literature should transcend the simulacrum and represent new and alternate ways to experience simulated or emulated realities.
And that is what literature does: it emulates or simulates realities. Contrary to early Wittgenstein, language does not picture reality; instead, it provides instructions for your brain to construct models. Continue reading
A thorn bush bloomed in my skull.
Vines sprouted inside my brain.
They spread throughout my body—their thorns, razor-sharp, tore into my muscles and threatened to deglove me—as fragments of light sparkled and devoured me.
Bugs, or, worse, creatures whose existence had eluded us, crawled across my skin and burrowed into my temples. They danced and stretched a rope from temple to temple, and tried to pull them inward, tried to collapse my skull.
I wanted to scream, couldn’t.
I wanted to dig my fingernails into my skull and remove them one by one.
The ropes pulled inward, inward.
I tapped my temple in search of a hole.
Gummo, inspect my head.
Why hadn’t the words come out?
Why hadn’t I made a sound?
Had my motors skills atrophied?
Where are we?
What the hell is this place?
Why the fuck are we doing this?
Although certain I’d transformed my thoughts into coherent chatter, the expressions from strangers and dealers told me otherwise. Wide or squinted eyes, open mouths or frowns—everyone broadcast a response.
Faces muted confusion or fear. Continue reading
To appreciate the book, we should appreciate the web series on which it’s based. To appreciate the series, we should appreciate the man responsible for it: Tim Heidecker. A cult figure, Heidecker is known as one half of the comedy duo, Tim and Eric, who are responsible for some of the strangest comedy programs of the new century.
Leaping onto the screen with an animated series on Adult Swim, Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric hinted at a comedy style far from typical fare. They peppered their show with absurdity while maintaining a stylized tone—equal parts farce, broad comedy, and understated, at times almost atonal, humor. It was such a singular and unique show that it’s not possible to find an analogue. Something like a sketch comedy show for the digital age, it was like something out out a Jodorowsky film, a surreal romp through the minds of men unafraid to approach comedy as conceptual nonsense. Continue reading
Click here to pre-order the Kindle edition of Bastard Virtues
Daulton Dickey was born into a family of circus freaks. Without any noticeable defects or talent, he hitchhiked across the Atlantic Ocean and kicked the corpse of William S. Burroughs. He currently lives with his wife and sons in a city on a planet in the Milky Way Galaxy.
He has written for several websites, including PopMatters and Film Threat, and he was, briefly, an editor for the journal, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.
Jeff O’Brien writes fantasy and horror, weird and absurd novels and stories. For more about his books … actually, skip reading about them and just read them. You can find them here.
1.What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A utopia with myself, my wife, my dogs, beautiful green women, and the small band of people who grasp our concept of perfect happiness. In my backyard there would be a transport to the magical land of Xanth, and I could go and hang out with the gorgons, nymphs, zombies, ogres and puns. I love a good pun.
2.What is your greatest fear?
The possible repercussions of sharing my greatest fear with the general public. Nice try, Dickey!
3.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Probably vanity, as I can’t think of one.
4.What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Lack of conversation etiquette. I have no use for someone who talks over others.
5.Which living person do you most admire?
Piers Anthony. I mean, I don’t know much about what kind of guy he is, but his virtually endless bibliography has pretty much been the greatest thing I’ve ever discovered.
6.What is your greatest extravagance?
Books. I live rather frugally, but can’t seem to restrain myself in the purchasing of books. I have more than I can possibly ever read, but I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Continue reading
Violent and surreal, twisted and macabre—these stories will challenge your idea of normality and asceticism. From a psychopathic serial killer who meets her match in a family of serial killers to men and women lost and tormented by their minds, Still Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things and Other Stories will burrow into your skull, and mind f**k you.
Warning: This collection contains stories not suitable for children or the faint of heart.