Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
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Tag Archives: Squid Salad Press
I reviewed Tim Waggoner’s Skull Cathedral a few years ago—quite favorably, if memory serves—so when I saw that he had a collection coming out, I was looking forward to it. When I saw the chance to snap up a copy of said collection from the Post Mortem Press table at AnthoCon, I did it.
Bone Whispers is a collection of eighteen stories. Now, I’d be derelict in my duties if I didn’t warn the uninitiated that a Tim Waggoner story is NOT like any others. He deals out vicious, wriggling slivers of off-kilter horror, slathered in strange and stitched with surrealism. This is my favorite type of story, truth be told.
We open with “Thou Art God,” wherein a man makes the difficult discovery that he is God and much to his chagrin, that doesn’t equate to unabashed love and adoration from his fellow man. “Bone Whispers” takes us on a painful journey of sad nostalgia and coming to terms with tragedy…and a giant supernatural groundhog. “Some Dark Hope” give us a pathetic loner who finds a way to use his particular life “skills” to make some money in a very special house of ill repute.
Visit an orchard where the living dead sprout like trees in “Harvest Time.” “Surface Tension” delivers a very odd story of a man afraid of puddles, with good reason. “Best Friends Forever” shows us how powerful denial and guilt are when working together. “No More Shadows” is a bizarre exercise in paranoia and loyalty. “Unwoven” is a trippy little shard of existential humor…shaded darkly.
Marking the book’s equator is “Skull Cathedral,” a nightmarish kaleidoscope of surreal brutality. “Do No Harm” is a sort-of zombie apocalypse story without any zombies, but the vibe is eerily similar. “Country Roads,” which happens to be my favorite in this book, tells the tale of a sad man looking for validation in the echoes of his youth. Outstanding! “Darker Than Winter” gives us a tale of snowman murder and terror in the bold tradition of the old horror comics from the 50s.
“Swimming Lesson” corrals the weirdness into a public pool, while “Conversations Kill” finds a man confronting his woman issues in a very unhealthy way. “Long Way Home” is an apocalyptic tale of survival and resentment masked as guilt that, with it’s crazy monsters, plays like a Del Toro film. “Sleepless Eyes” is a crazy little scene in the most horrific roadside dive you’ve ever visited. “The Faces That We Meet” is a story that allows a dark glimpse into the secret habits and lives of those we know and think we know well.
The collection closes with “The Great Ocean of Truth,” a gonzo tale that channels the authors inner Kafka and brews it in a Norman Rockwell coffee mug to be poured down your throat while still scalding hot.
Bone Whispers is an astounding testament to the talents of Tim Waggoner. I have (and I hope to remedy this soon) only read his short fiction and I have loved all of it. Ranking among Brady Allen and Bentley Little in the halls of Weird Fiction Manor. toothy and terrifying and delightfully devilish. Good stuff that will leave stains and scars.
In 2008,Tim Waggoner put out Skull Cathedral, a supremely short and limited edition booklet, via Squid Salad Press.
Skull Cathedral is a bizarro tale that is a smorgasbord of trippy images, the premise of which appearing to be the delusions of a man going through a barbaric procedure to cure him of his less than pure thoughts. These sections of his warped psyche appear in the form of short chapters where we encounter a wide array of fucked-uppedness. Yes, I invented a word for it.
Behold a smoldering midnight in a town on fire. Hang with a man with assholes for eyes who sprays gawkers with optical diarrhea. Witness a depraved man on a raft stitched from the skin of four sluts as he floats on a menstrual sea…and gets horny. Attend a dinner date with a cannibalistic toddler. This is Bizarro on steroids.
This brief book was my first experience with Waggoner’s work and I can say I look forward to reading more. Devilishly and deliciously disturbing. Available via Squid Salad Press, but it is limited edition, so act quickly.
Jack Ketchum is a name synonymous with brutality and edgy violence. He is quite capable of that on his own. Add to that a partnership with renegade film director, Lucky McKee, and you’ve got a shimmering bouquet of dripping red madness.
The Woman follows the last surviving member of the reclusive cannibal clan featured in Ketchum’s novels Offspring and Off Season. As she stumbles on, weak and wounded, she has the continued misfortune of crossing paths with local lawyer Christopher Cleek, a man highly regarded in his stature and position, but so cracked and flawed in character and soul…well, better to leave the rest for you to discover.
Cleek captures the woman as she bathes in a stream and takes her to his home, imprisoning her in a cellar until he can “tame” her. Which he plans to do with the help of his family. This is where things get very bad.
The Woman takes you just where you expect it to, then kicks you in the shins and knocks you down a dark stairwell, where it then stands above you, sneering as it pisses into your sniveling face. It’s a bully of a novella, populated by some of the nastiest characters ever to live on the page.
My edition comes from Dorchester Publishing and also includes a bonus story, “Cow,” which ups the disturbing ante. It made me feel the need to shower, immediately. That is high praise!