Friday, December 29, 2023

Top Ten Reads of 2023

Here are my favorite books that I read in 2024. As usual, these are book I read, not necessarily books released in 2024. 

10. Mother Howl by Craig Clevenger 

A highly memorable crime story about lost identity. 

Full review here.

9. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante writes about the beauty and horror of life with one of the keenest eyes in contemporary literature. 

8. Sea of the Patchwork Cats by Carlton Mellick III

One of Mellick's more dream-like stories, also one of his most melancholy. A depressed alcoholic finds himself alone after the entire human race committed suicide. It only gets odder and sadder from there. 

7. Generation X by Douglas Coupland

I'd been pretty lukewarm on what I'd read from Coupland before. This story of disaffected Gen-Xers, however, very much lives up to the hype. 

6. Marshal Law: Fear and Loathing by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill

Before The Boys, there was Marshal Law. An early parody/deconstruction of superhero comics that holds up better than ever. 

5. The Passenger/Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy's final word to the world was amazing. The two books are companions, so I'm counting them as one. 

4. Notice by Heather Lewis

A pitch-black noir story about addiction, prostitution, and abuse. I reviewed this one for my The Unreprinted column, and I'm happy to say Semiotext(e) is bringing it back into print next year. 

Full review here. 

3. The Works of Guillaume Dustan, Vol. 1 by Guillaume Dustan

Dustan invites us into his life in Paris, one haunted by the specter of the AIDS crises as a gay man in the 90's. The results captured in these three short novels are honest, fascinating, and gripping. 

2. Haunter/Soma by Charlee Jacob

This poetic novel of imperialism and religious horror sets the bar for extreme horror and splatterpunk very high. 

Full review here. 

1. Your Dreams by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore's work continues to simultaneously be some of the most disturbing and the most tender and affectionate that I've ever read. 

Full review here. 

Honorable Mentions
- Spaniels by Jukka Siikala
- The Shards by Bret Eason Ellis
- The Enchanters by James Ellroy
- The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley 
- Neo-Decadence Evangelion, edited by Justin Isis

Friday, July 28, 2023

Release Day: Saturday Morning Mind Control


“What really killed Saturday morning cartoons?

For Caleb, dealing with puberty and all the changes that come with the raging hormones is confusing enough without also living in an America still reeling from the tragedy of 9/11. When his young cousin attacks him with a knife, seemingly without provocation, it turns his whole life upside down. Who would believe a middle school boy that something strange came from the TV that Saturday morning and made it happen?

Saturday Morning Mind Control is a mix of horror, mystery, and satire combined with a twisted coming-of-age tale in an America entering the new millennium.”

My newest novel, published by D&T Publishing, is now available exclusively as an ebook from Fans of my prior horror novel, Elaine, will probably really enjoy this one. I had a lot of fun writing it.

For those who want a Kindle version or a paperback, it’ll be available on Amazon 8/11/23.

Get Saturday Morning Mind Control here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

RELEASE DAY: 666 Flags: A Fundraising Anthology from PsychoToxin Press



Today, PsychoToxin Press releases the charity anthology, 666 Flags. It features the bizarro sci-fi story from myself, "The Sex of Tomorrow."

Recently, author C. Derick Miller was let go from his job at a certain amusement park franchise, essentially for being a horror author. PsychoToxin is responding to this by creating a legal defense fund for indie authors. 

The paperback is available from Amazon, but you can also buy the eBook directly from PsychoToxin. In the case of the latter, 100% of your purchase will go to the legal fund. 

Thank you to PsychoToxin for having me as a part of this. 

Buy the paperback here.
Buy the eBook here.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

New Review at Substack

Over at my Substack, I have a review of Thomas Moore's latest novel published by Amphetamine Sulphate. 

Read it here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Release Date: The Aristocrats Anthology


Out today from Potter's Grove Press, it's The Aristocrats Anthology. Featuring myself and several other authors writing versions of the infamous Aristocrats Joke in the form of various classic authors, this tribute to Gilbert Gottfried will have all of its royalties donated to the charity Comedy Gives Back

Get the paperback here.
Get the eBook here. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Out Now: Jesus in the Mire by Rob Ramirez + In Uterus in Print


Rob Ramirez's second story is now up at

"Alone and afraid, Anthelme knows he can't hide from what lay in wait beneath the waters forever."

In other news, In Uterus, previously a Godless ebook exclusive, is now available in print. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Brief Thoughts 32

It's been some time since I've done this. I figured it was about time to bring it back. 

Dead Men's Trousers by Irvine Welsh

Billed as the "grand finale to the Trainspotting saga," this book takes place several years after Trainspotting and its sequel Porno. Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy, and Spud are all middle-aged men with kids and careers. Well, except for Spud. Spud hasn't accomplished much. Renton's career isn't going so hot either. He's a manager for DJs, except he's down to just one who actually makes him any money now. Sick Boy runs an escort service and, as usual, seems to be going out of his way to destroy his personal relationships. Surprisingly, Begbie seems to be doing the best out of all of them. He's reformed from his violent ways, happily married with two kids, and living in America as a successful artist. 

It almost goes without saying, this book is really only for people who liked Trainspotting enough to want to see the characters again. It's helpful, though not completely necessary, to have read Porno and The Blade Artist before this. While I hadn't read the latter, and Begbie's story in this directly follows after the one in that book, I still enjoyed this very much. 

It takes the humor and the antics of Trainspotting and Porno and amplifies them, at times going into outright farce. This includes a convoluted plot that results in Spud getting his kidney removed by a podiatrist in a dilapidated building who is following a YouTube tutorial. Another hilarious scene is Begbie making plaster casts of the heads of Renton, Sick Boy, and Spud. This ends in Begbie walking in on them stumbling around blind like the Three Stooges. 

Despite all the humor, there's still an emotional center at seeing the crew long past their addictions to heroin, but still struggling to really adjust in career and family. It's especially touching to seeing a character like Begbie really find happiness despite his struggles with his explosive anger and how's he's (mostly) learned to channel it in healthy ways. 

Most of the Trainspotting books don't have the formal experimentation that something like Filth does, but there are bits of it here. The drug DMT plays a role in the plot and when the characters take it, their trips are told through brief one to two page comics. While it doesn't add much to the book, it doesn't detract either. 

I would highly recommend this if you've read the other Trainspotting books. I believe it brings the lives and misadventures of its characters to a satisfying conclusion. 

Mayhem at the Museum by Regina Watts

Luther is a misfit boy. He doesn't get along with his classmates, especially because he insists on bringing his stuffed wolf, named Paine, everywhere all the time. On a field trip to the local science museum, he meets an odd but intelligent girl his age named Miranda, a daughter of an eccentric rich family. To Luther's surprise, Miranda is one of the few people who can see Paine is really alive and not just a stuffed animal. When both wander away from their class groups, they discover a bag of guns in the janitor's closet. 

Watts's novel is a mixture of parody, Splatterpunk, and a little bit of fantasy. Luther and Paine are obvious stand-ins for Calvin and Hobbes and Miranda is one for Wednesday Addams. There are also references to other characters from Calvin and Hobbes and The Addams Family

There are differences. Luther is much meeker and less prone to flights of fantasy than Calvin, Paine is much more aggressive and is explicitly alive in more than just Luther's imagination, and Miranda is more malevolent than most interpretations of Wednesday Addams. 

For a book with as goofy a premise as this, you'd think most of the violence would be cartoony. There are certainly aspects of that, but some of the violence is actually pretty brutal. There's a scene towards the beginning where the museum janitor, having abandoned his plan to shoot up the museum, tries to commit suicide. He accidently spills acid in his face and ends up dying very slowly that way. I actually cringed pretty hard (in a good way) at this. 

The book is a good time. While not quite weird enough to be bizarro proper, it reminds me of the energy of proto-bizarro horror books. It's creative, over the top, and just plain fun to read. It moves fast and has a lot of entertaining action. 

Understanding all the things the book references isn't necessary, it's just a nice bonus for a bloody story of kids in a fucked up situation. I definitely recommend picking this up if you're looking for a cracked up thriller. While I've known Watts for some time, this is the first full book of hers I've read, and I'm looking forward to more. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Top Ten Reads of 2022

It's that time of year again. Remember, these are the books I read in 2022, not books that were published that year. 

10. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

A revenge tale about two fathers finding the men who murdered their sons. The action is exciting and the sense of loss throughout the book is palpable. 

9. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

A woman who doesn't remember anything about her past studying the strange mansion she finds herself in. A book full of wonderful imagery. 

8. Death's End by Liu Cixin

I only put The Three-Body Problem on my honorable mentions last year. While it is a good book, the trilogy really picks up in the second and third book. This one, the third, is an imaginative view into the far, far future when the world is so different, it becomes alien to the present. 

7. Tears of a Komsomol Girl by Audrey Szasz

Part coming of age story, part study of Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, part look into the last days of the Soviet Union, Szasz's first full novel is an amazing, brutal, and surreal work. 

Full review here. 

6. Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

One of the bleakest horror books I've read recently, this story about a world where cannibalism is normal is an incredibly affecting story. 

5. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

A unique alternative history that looks at a Nazi-occupied United States from the perspective of everyday people. It's also full of interesting concepts about the nature of reality and the perception of history. Definitely my favorite of Dick's that I've read so far. 

4. The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin 

The second in The Three-Body Problem trilogy. The book is a fascinating dive into psychology, sociology on a cosmic scale, and a gripping thriller. My favorite of the trilogy. 

3. Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami

The stories of Kiku and Hashi, two boys abandoned in coin-operated lockers as infants. They grow up to become a pole-vaulter with deep anger issues and a queer rock star. The story only gets stranger from there. The best I've read from Murakami so far.

2. Stoner by John Williams

The tragic tale of an undistinguished academic, his failed relationships, and his derailed career. It's an excellent novel about a simple man crushed by the weight of the world. 

1. Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter 

The story of Jack Levitt, a man who never had it made. This is often labeled a crime novel, but it's more of a study of a man who has to turn to crime to survive. Sad at times, hilarious at others, it's my favorite read of 2022.

Honorable Mentions

- We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
- The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
- Children of the New Flesh, edited by Chris Kelso and David Leo Rice
- Contempt by Alberto Moravia