Tag Archives: Max Booth III

The Mind Is a Razorblade

I like my fiction on the strange side. Sometimes, really strange. The Mind Is a Razorblade, by Max Booth III, is damned strange. And now I’m beginning to think Booth is a little strange as well.

That’s a good thing.

The book opens with a man waking on the muddy banks of a river. He is naked and there are two dead bodies and a police car present. He has absolutely no idea who he is, who the dead are and what the hell lead to this scene. Stealing a coat from one of the deceased, he makes his way on a quest for identity and to solve the puzzle of who he is and why he ended up here.

He arrives in the city to see roaming groups of deranged individuals, jabbering crazies, and the Harvies, gruesome specters of death that only some can see, and that seem to dog our hero’s every step. He encounters people from his past, even though he doesn’t remember them. He discovers things about the present and the past and finds out that not everyone is who—or what—they seem. He hides from ghosts and demon gods. He also has the ability to blow shit up with his mind when he gets really angry.

All of these things (and brain spiders) are the ingredients to a stylistic and extremely bizarre noir-venture that reads like a David Lynch directed version of Memento—but with brain spiders and bunny slippers. It’s almost ridiculous until the grit settles and then it gets tense and brutal.

A man with no memory and thus no identity is the most pitiful and terrifying of characters and Booth nails his journey with a deft hand. When he encounters people he knew or who know him, the reaction is rendered with a sense of realism that is so well done, you can almost smell the exasperation.

Having read Booth’s novel Toxicity, I was sure I knew what to expect here but I was wrong. While I loved this book as much as I did the other, they’re quite differing creatures. Wherein Toxicity was funny and smart and almost satirical in its dissection of segments of society and cultural expectations, The Mind Is a Razorblade is a violent and bleak film unwittingly shot by a dashboard camera in an abandoned police car. It has a grimy vibe that permeates and settles on the skin like ashes or oil. I mean this as a compliment.

The Mind Is a Razorblade is available through Kraken Press.

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The Green Kangaroos

The idea of drug addiction is terrifying to me. That terror goes up a notch when the drugs in question involve needles. Now add the idea of sticking a needle full of poison into your testicles. Yeah, that hammer blow made the puck fly high and ring the bell, didn’t it?

The Green Kangaroos, by Jessica McHugh, is junkie fiction wrapped in sci-fi and enough seedy Gummo ick that it qualifies as some sort of horror. We follow our “hero,” Perry, through a drug-drowned world in the year 2099, a world where people literally pay for dope with lumps of flesh and vaginal meat. Breasts seem to fetch top dollar. Perry has a family that wants him clean, but he just wants to stay high. Every scenario in which he finds himself should have him screaming for sobriety, yet he clings to his agenda of chemical impairment. When the world as he knows it turns out to be nothing like it seems, then things get really strange.

In The Green Kangaroos, Jessica McHugh gives us the bastard love-baby of William Burroughs and The Matrix, thankfully devoid of Keanu Reeves. It’s needle-sickness-meets-dopesick Blade Runner world is horrifying. Even the likeable characters are shitbags, but they are so richly drawn and the story is so wonkily brilliant you just keep your hands and feet inside the car and enjoy the ride.

I had no idea what to expect with this book. To that point, I can say I enjoyed it. McHugh gives us a very detailed and sordid chronicle of an unapologetic junkie in a world that doesn’t really care about much of anything. The writing is  sharp and cuts deep. The layers and nuances that slither and snake around the prose are unsettling.

The Green Kangaroos is available through Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

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Toxicity

Having read his collection of flash fiction, They Might Be Demons, I was curious as to what this novel would be like. Max Booth III writes in a very bombastic and somewhat over-the-top style. Sort of like if Masterpiece Theatre was cast with pro wrestlers and performing play versions of Lansdale novels. That kind of madness. So when I was asked if I’d like to review Toxicity, I said sure.

Toxicity is the story of several hapless fuckers. All of them in various miserable situations, all of them shitty but almost likeable.

Maddox Kane is just out of prison and anxious to reconnect with his daughter. His daughter and her boyfriend are busy playing Badlands and trying to stay ahead of the fuzz and hide the bodies. One of her friends, Johnny, has just had his family pull up stakes for greener pastures, after winning the lottery with a ridiculous numeral sequence. Johnny’s crazy mom has revved up her odd obsession with dolls while Dad hides in his basement bunker masturbating to Warcraft, as his obese brother eats Cheetos and watches endless television. Johnny fills the familial void with strange drugs that allow him to see between existences. He meets Jesus—in the form of a fly.

Maddox just keeps tripping from one bad situation to another, each messier and more fucked up than the previous. His dumb-ass brother gets them held hostage by a beastly whore and he keeps missing the calls from his parole officer. And the Goths teach Johnny that throwing grapes at hellhounds can save your tripping ass.

All of that is in here…and much more. It sounds ridiculous when splintered apart, but it works quite well. The storylines meld and part but never compromise the flow of the story. An exercise in fluid pacing and an altar to high octane fun. This is modern noir-cum-bizarro. This is cool.

Available through Post Mortem Press.

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