Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Review: Meat Puppet Cabaret

So Our Hero popped in the used bookstore not long ago and there picked up a copy of a book that caught my eye right off the shelf-Meat Puppet Cabaret by some ol' boy named Steve Beard. The cheeky title was enough to have me forking over my money, but what really sold me was the premise, which is on the ragged edge of derp and genius. From the back cover of the book:

"...what if Jack the Ripper were a demon summoned by the black magician John Dee to steal Princess Diana's baby Allegra from the scene of the car crash in Paris? What if Allegra were hidden in a children's home in East London, but then 14 years later escaped?"

Anyway, with crazy drugs and deviant sex and sympathetic magic all rolled into one, there was no way I wasn't going to love this book. The five main characters were all appealing and sympathetic during their POV chapters and ghastly and terrifying when viewed through the perspective of the other characters, a dichotomy I found pleasing and appropriate. It skewers the mass media paradigm on nearly every page, most notably with psychospiritual terrorism and murder (along with potent witchcraft) reduced to a sort of Call of Duty videogame pastiche during Jack's chapters. There is also a marvellous scene that combines a detailed and plot critical cyber pagan metaphysics lecture with a lesbian bondage scenario. Seriously, if they were going to pander a book specifically to me, that would have damn near cinched it. If you like smoking dark horror through a dingy pop culture crack pipe, it is most certainly the book for you too.

Anyway, I am not without my nits to pick. The non traditional story format can be hard to follow; some of the chapter transitions are jarring and you have to get about halfway through sometimes before you realize who the POV is supposed to be. There are plenty of occasions where the characters are not named or where an encounter is deliberately left obfuscated and the reader can be left holding their dick going "Whuh?" Also, I found that the main character was the one I cared least about; through the course of the book I alternated between being annoyed with her and wishing she would take her fuckin' shirt off already. Also, the book is advertised as a continuation of Lovecraft, but I didn't see it, except perhaps at the very end where the good Dr. fucks up his ritual and gets sucked into the...whatever. The gods, when they appeared, were just kind of depressingly banal rather than eldritch unknowable horrors-and it kind of stuck in my craw. Could have been a formatting thing I guess-the conversations between god entities was rendered in this rather bare bones IRC chat log format and it just didn't work for me.

Overall though, I'd give it 4 out of 5 ninja stars. I'm kind of intrigued by this publishing company, Raw Dog Screaming Press. Now that is a brand I could get behind! I'll have to check out some of their other shit-there are some people on there that used to write for Cthulhu Sex, and it pleases me to see some of them doing commercial work. Maybe I'll check out Spider Pie sometime.

1 comment:

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