Book review: Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People by Andy Rausch

 

About Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People

This quirky collection of short stories (and one novella) by Andy Rausch contains something for readers of every stripe. Rausch touches on a variety of genres, including horror, comedy, crime, and even Western, but every story features his unique, offbeat wit, superb writing, and razor-sharp dialogue, all delivered from a decidedly off-kilter perspective. His work has been praised by the likes of Cape Fear screenwriter Wesley Strick and Fort Apache the Bronx author Heywood Gould. Author Peter Leonard once compared his writing style to that of his father, Elmore Leonard. Storylines include a naive little boy mistaking a burglar for Santa Claus, bumbling white supremacists attempting to resurrect the dead body of Adolf Hitler, a man who develops an unexplainable craving for the taste of human flesh, a would-be author summoning the spirit of dead novelist Charles Bukowski to assist him writing, a showdown between legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and a deadly serial killer on the dusty streets of Tombstone, and many more. So ask yourself: are you a little bit crazy, and if so, are you up to the task of reading these twenty-two wild and crazy tales of darkness, wackiness, and outright debauchery?

My Thoughts

Just as the book blurb states, Andy Rausch has produced a hilarious, off-the-wall collection of twenty-one short stories and a novella, all with satisfyingly ironic and at times macabre twists. I much appreciate the author’s cutting and economic literary style and terrific dialogue. Vivid characters abound, including the ludicrous and inane Chunk, to the revolting, personal-hygiene-challenged degenerate Turk through to quirky Granny Wilkins and her special family dinner and the file predator Roach and his encounter with an attractive young woman at a gas station. Each story is distinct. Rausch manages to evoke vivid settings with the fewest words.

The novella ‘Wyatt Earp and the Devil Incarnate’ sees Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp – in real life the legendary American West lawman and gambler of Tombstone, Arizona, best known for his involvement in the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral – dealing with a string of gruesome murders. Rausch inhabits the western genre with aplomb. I could picture the saloon, the men, the gun holsters, conjure the sound of boots on unpolished wooden floors. The tale is raw and I liked the twist at the end.

There is depth to all these tales, insights into the human condition, and oodles of amorality, derangement and hapless folk dealing with confronting situations. Rauch’s journalistic mind comes to the fore, telling it as it is, shooting from the hip, never blenching, almost as though the author is shrugging and raising his hands at his readers saying, well, people can be like that.

Where is humanity’s moral compass? Does humanity even have one? How far would you take a ‘what if’?

In all Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People is an elixir of a special kind, appealing to those after fast-paced shorts to escape into and get a kick out of, and those who enjoy the odd moment of pause and reflection. Highly recommended.

 

About Andy Rausch

Andy Rausch is an American film journalist, author, screenwriter, film producer, and actor.

He is the author of several novels and novellas including Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin. He also wrote the screenplay for Dahmer versus Gacy and is the author of some twenty non-fiction books on popular culture.

Books: Riding Shotgun, Bloody Sheets, A Time for Violence, Layla’s Score.

You can usually find Andy on Twitter @writerrausch1, and he maintains a blog at https://authorandyrausch.wordpress.com/

 

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book review: Essence Asunder by Feind Gottes

Essence Asunder by Feind Gottes –  welcome to body horror!

Feind Gottes review

About Essence Asunder

A gut-wrenching, stomach-churning journey into one man’s private hell – Essence Asunder is one brutal novella!
One man. Two fiends. A cold, dark basement. A table of torture devices. A garrote chair. Jacob Falgoust has woken into his own private Hell where Pain and Misery greet him with open arms. A reason wrapped in riddles of beauty and pain may be his only chance to escape the suffering. Jacob must find the answer before his very essence is torn asunder.

My thoughts:

The horror in Essence Asunder grabs you from the first sentence and does not let go. This novella is as gruesome and confronting a read as you are ever likely to encounter and is not for the faint-hearted! For those brave enough to turn the pages, a dark, voyeuristic fascination will descend in your mind as you live, if vicariously, a protracted torture scene – visceral and grotesque.

Meet Jake, aka Jacob, the victim of a punishing campaign of pain, meted out by Dr. Mad Hatter and his monstrous assistant. Enduring unimaginable acts, Jacob slips in and out of consciousness and has flashbacks to his beloved Evangeline. He is desperate to discover if she is safe.

Slowly, very slowly, the reader finds out who Jake really is. The story culminates in a satisfying revelation that leaves the reader wondering whose side to take, and then just when you think you get it and know everything, there’s the final twist.

Gottes has penned an extraordinary novella of unrelenting tension and sustained body horror. The writing is strong and the story well-crafted. Essence Asunder will take your breath away. Be warned!

You can pick up your copy of Essence Asunder on Amazon

 

Review: Biddy Trott by Donna Maria McCarthy

Continuing my journey into the realm of horror fiction, I am thrilled to share my review of Biddy Trott, a fine novella composed by talented author, Donna Maria McCarthy.

“‘If Biddy knows no rest, then none shall…’ A tragedy born of malice and evil, a tortured body and soul. The townsfolk of Royal Rumney have a conscience, a secret that tears away at their sanity. Any soul shall be offered up in place of the damned; ‘And ever the church bells tell a lie, is Biddy who comes and another will die. Set in eighteenth century England in the small market town of Royal Rumny, Biddy Trott is a Gothic Horror novella with tragedy at its core.

A young girl, falsely blamed for a fire which destroyed the town and killed many, is hunted down, tortured and killed gruesomely, with no conscience. Lord Abner Alexander, a member of the elite and privileged, travels to the town in search of some peace and respite from his very bawdy and raucous lifestyle. The town seems pleasant enough and the people welcoming, although unyielding where their dark and harrowing past is concerned. Amongst some, shame, amongst others a distorted pride. Abner’s first indication that something evil lurks here is on his first night, where the Abbey bells toll two, and he finds himself witness to a terrifying slaying… not knowing whether it a dream or not, he remains, and becomes bewitched by a passion to record any horrors he feels he witnesses.”

The setting of Biddy Trott pre-dates the era of the penny dreadful by about a century, and the astute reader might be forgiven for anticipating an f in the stead of an s in the text. From the perspective of today, the seventeen hundreds are as Gothic a setting that ever was, a time of transition when the first glimmerings of the industrial revolution were being felt, yet most of Britain languished in traditions of yore. Perhaps in essence, Biddy Trott even pre-dates the works of Ann Radcliffe and is more in keeping with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764. For from the very first sentence the reader is invited into a narrative spun out of the sentiments of mid-eighteenth century England.

Donna Maria McCarthy writes in an old-school style commensurate with the times; the result is a novella that demands of the reader their concentration. Those willing to make the effort will not be disappointed, for the tale is a good one, gripping from first to last. Many will be forgiven for beginning the work again, to pick up on the nuances. The narrator inhabits Royal Rumny and compels the reader to do the same and with such intensity, it is as though the author, in conjuring the narrative voice, has cast a spell, for the story itself is a haunting.

Biddy Trott is filled with grotesque characters, maimed and crippled, haunted and possessed, and downright evil. Even during the day, there is no sense of light. The action is gruesome, bawdy at times, and sharply witty. A compelling read, fast-paced despite the language, and filled with twists and turns; the reader rendered as confused as the protagonist, compelled to discover the horrible truth that curses Royal Rumny.

The young girl at the root of the darkness, Biddy Trott, is much more than a mere character in this novella, she embodies a theme, she is the vessel for a concept, one born of the author’s incredible insight and rich imagination. To say more would be to spoil the story.

Biddy Trott will appeal to fans of Gothic literature, for those who want to read their horror stories more than once, and for collectors of rare finds. I, for one, am looking forward with keen interest for more from this author.

Buy your copy here.

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