Lurid satirical riffs hold up a fun-house mirror to the world in this fantasia.
New York underground littérateur Bird (Hideous Exuberance, 2009) creates an alternative universe peopled by cartoonish characters who intermingle across dreamlike episodes that shatter the conventions of time, space and spelling. On high is the deity Lord Szczmawg, who benevolently smothers our Blue Green Planet with intestinal greenhouse gasses; on Earth is the antagonism between cretinous Evilangelists and burqa-ed Muslim comedians. Barely repressed perversion stalks the rural hinterland of Amurycka Profunda. There roam the likes of high school prostitute Mannequin Streetwalker and her half-sister, Incestuous Ingrydd, while blaringly unrepressed perversion saturates a nightmare Manhattan where self-loathing trust-funders wallow in sadomasochistic scenes that spill over into ritual slaughter. There’s a parade of vaudeville set pieces: Princess Orca Media, a “spoiled, demanding, pre-Freudian and power-drunk bitch” lords over sullen serfs; her time-travelling future incarnation, a ditzy Jersey Goth-ette discourses on Star Trek; a sketch set on the Planet Vomitoria serves “sewage sludge mousse garnished with chicken claws.” Bird’s prose is a stew of surrealism—“She was blissfully unaware as she performed scathing, balletic, synchronized swimming-style moves…while giant carnivorous frogs salivated by the aqua colored kidney shaped swimming pool”—mixed with insult comedy and scabrous sexual provocations. He festoons it with Central European linguistic flourishes: German exclamations, Polish phonics, a weirdly Teutonic hillbilly patois—“Jes cuz we worships Jah-Hee-Zeus dunt mean usns alwaysiez gots tuh be all saintlie like Himmerz!”—that evokes a redneck Weimar cabaret. Threading through the chaos are a wicked caricature of New York scenesters, rage against environmental destruction, religious bigotry and striking photographs of dark roads, lit but not illuminated by garish streetlights that form a sinister, hallucinatory visual counterpoint to the text. Bird’s caustic levity, exuberant wordplay and arresting imagery make for a bracing read—though it’s not for the faint of heart.
This raucous avant-garde comedy will sweep you along with its vigor and originality.