Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A F*CKLOAD OF SHORTS by Jedidiah Ayres

Jedidiah Ayres is such a great writer that if he wrote more accessible stuff like a coming of age family drama or a thriller with the word Girl in the title, he would be a household name. But instead he writes stuff like this collection of stories full of depraved violence, filthy sex, disturbing psychology, comedy blacker than the darkest night, and characters devoid of any moral center and it's all for the better. It's one of the best written pieces of work I've read this year by a writer more people should know about. Most of the stories in this collection shouldn't work; they should feel too ridiculous. And Ayres takes these things to places you were sure he wouldn't dare go, but you'll be so wrapped up in his storytelling flair, that by the time you get to the witch-burning and the necrophilia, you will simply be along for the ride.

He tries his hands at a variety of genres here, from noir, Western, apocalyptic, or a couple of comedies that have a Friends of Eddie Coyle-ish stream-of-dialogue style, but he puts his own twisted spin on all of them. Try reading "Hoosier Daddy," "The Whole Buffalo," or this bewildering and tantalizing passage near the beginning of "The Adversary," and not want to read everything else he's written:
The witch had been holding ceremonies. Sacrifices. Poultry mostly. She blessed and hexed for a fee and she'd send and deliver messages across the Stygian chasms separating worlds.  All of her arts were brought over from the Dark Continent and she practiced in the woods under penalty of death by the Law of Moses, which the Reverend Chalfont Avery was charged with upholding now in the face of Armageddon.  He had been present at her execution, a willing and enthusiastic participant, but the kicking feet of the blasphemer brought not the warmth of God to his soul, so they torched her home to mirror the flames of Hades and on them he warmed his hands.
It's a shame that this book is out of print by SnubNose Press. I'm lucky to have stumbled onto a used copy in an LA bookstore. If you can find it, snatch it up. But if you can't, his novella Fierce Bitches is the best thing I've read so far this year, and I'm sure his full-length novel, Peckerwood, which I haven't read yet (soon come), is just as great.


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