Laughably overpriced wacko novel that is the Plan Nine from Outer Space of horror titles and deserves burial under a mound of manure. Looking to top his dubious distinction in publishing the grisliest vampire tale of 1992 (Wetbones), he devotes his latest fiction to a loving catalogue of hell’s endless horrors: impalements, throat slashings, AIDS carcinomas and bedsores, people who die again and again, having themselves drowned for the joy of it and for the wonderful period of relief while dead before reanimation for another a horrible death. Hell, you see, inflicts death upon death on the same sufferer, over and over and over, in endless hideous variations. Shirley has the same right to chronicle such atrocities as the Marquis de Sade or Hieronymous Bosch, but his lurid depictions lack any of their art. In this hellscape of unrelieved emotional and physical carnage, nine-year-olds are repeatedly raped, burned with cigarettes, and sent out to beg, however fruitless their begging. The plot? Very vague, with two alien intelligences overlooking these horrors and one of them enjoying them so much that he’s made to stay here and serve the Master.
Without question the worst book of the year, a place it will hold throughout all 2001—unless Shirley’s next swim through feces challenges it. There’s some audience that sucks on his lollipops of pain?