21 Transgressive Books (Part 2)

 

by
Daulton Dickey.

(This is part two of a 3 part series. Read part one here. Read part three here.)

Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways

Without spending too much time elaborating on theories w/r/t transgressive fiction, the above quote is from Wikipedia. Succinct, it offers a broad enough outline to convey the gist of this often ill-defined subset of fiction.

This isn’t a definitive list. It’s also not intended as authoritative. Instead, it’s a list of some transgressive books that have inspired me as a writer—and a person—over the years. Although I should clarify that I don’t love every book on this list. In fact, I find some of them repugnant, their authors appalling, but they’ve still affected me in one way or the other.

If you haven’t read much transgressive fiction, you should do yourself a favor a take a detour into world funny and strange, terrifying, awe-inspiring, and disturbing.

Although this list deals primarily with fiction, I’ve decided to include a few important works of non-fiction and poetry.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.
(Grove Press, 1964)

lastexittobrooklynFew writers excel at producing bleak material. Hubert Selby, Jr., is one of them. In his dirge to life on the fringes, Last Exit to Brooklyn is likely to leave an impression on everyone who reads it.

Populated by transvestites, the addicted, psychopaths, and the downtrodden, Selby’s classic examines life on the margins. While not a novel in the traditional sense, Last Exit is a collection of stories connected by themes and the city of Brooklyn.

This is a frank and honest portrayal of life on the margins. More importantly, it’s a depiction of the consequences of poverty in the richest nation on the planet. The material proved shocking to audiences in the early 60s. To people in the middle class, riding the high of the post-war, post-Eisenhower boom, such dregs of society serve no place in a civilized country.

But the characters Selby portrays—many of whom were based on people he knew—are not victims of their own excesses and poor choices. They’re victims of their social strata. Alcoholism and drug use, violent crime and depression and suicide are correlates of poverty. It’s easy to overlook the notion that these people developed in a social prison imposed on them by those with power or money. It’s much harder to recognize them as symptoms of a nihilistic nation obsessed with limiting the distribution of money and opportunity.

A brutal and unflinching book, Last Exit to Brooklyn is a must read, a harrowing tale of people left behind by a first world power. Continue reading

14 Great Indie Book Covers

by
Daulton Dickey.

They say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. While you certainly should refrain from judging the contents of a book by its cover, the cover is often our first introduction to a book. If it’s intriguing, attractive, or even confusing it, it might inspire us to pick up the book, to flip through it and read a few passages.

Book covers function as marketing tools, but they also encapsulate an element of the book itself. If the cover intrigues you, then perhaps the book will, too.

This is not a definitive list. You could probably point me to dozens, if not hundreds, of mind blowing or beautiful covers. The covers I’ve included here have, at one time of another, struck my as aesthetically pleasing in one way or another, so my criteria is admittedly subjective.

Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs: A Horror Collection by Israel Finn
Amazon Digital Services, 2016
Paperback 6.99
ebook 2.99

dreamingatthetopofmylungsAbout the book:

Twelve Tales of Horror From The Mind Of Israel Finn:

-A man who is faced with the prospect of losing the most important thing in his life—his son—but instead loses his mind. And then finds himself trapped in a waking nightmare with no way out.

-A frustrated man who curses life for having the audacity to pass him by, but discovers how it feels to be truly forsaken when the universe chooses to teach him a horrifying lesson.

-An outcast who must decide between vengeance and forgiveness in a world turned upside down by war and famine.

-A woman on trial in a world where telling the truth is a crime.

-A man who is living with a very odd houseguest, a visitor who has no concept of war.

-A boy who lives in constant terror of someone who is supposed to love and protect him, but who has betrayed that trust. A horror story that examines the real-life beasts who walk among us every day.

…And more.

Click here to buy the book

Galaxies by Barry N. Malzberg
Anti-Oedipus Press, 2014
Paperback 13.95

About the book:

galaxiesThere is a spectre haunting the science fiction genre-the spectre of Barry N. Malzberg . . . In a genre that, with one hand, claimed to be the ultimate storehouse of innovation, and with the other, leveled strict rules for writing and codes of narrative conduct onto its authors, Malzberg stuck out like a forked tongue, composing works of bona fide literature that dwarfed the efforts of his contemporaries and established him as one of science fiction’s most dynamic enfantterribles. Originally published in 1975, GALAXIES is a masterwork of the Malzberg canon, which includes over fifty novels and collections. Metafictional, absurdist and sardonic, the book mounts a concerted attack against the market forces that prescribed SF of the 1970s and continue to prescribe it today. At the same time, the book tells a story of technology and cyborgs, of bureaucracy and tachyons, of love and hate and sadness . . . Despite his deviant literary antics, Malzberg could not be ignored by the SF community. In 1973, he won the first annual John W. Campbell Memorial Award, which is presented to the best SF novel of the year by a distinguished committee of SF experts, authors and critics. Thereafter he received nominations for the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards, among others. Nonetheless his writing has not received the attention it so profoundly deserves. GALAXIES is among the works listed in acclaimed SF editor David Pringle’s SCIENCE FICTION: THE 100 BEST NOVELS, published in 1985. With an introduction by Jack Dann, this special paperback edition ushers Malzberg’s genius into the twenty-first century.

Click here to buy the book

Last Burn in Hell: Director’s Cut by John Edward Lawson
Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2006
Paperback 15.95
ebook 2.99

About the book:

lastburninhellThe bizarro prison sex horror road trip exploding with alien invasion action!

Kenrick Brimley, the state prison’s official gigolo, hangs over a lava pit on trial for his life in a strange land. He will reveal the course of his life one misguided step at a time for his captors. From his romance with serial arsonist Leena Manasseh to his lurid angst-affair with a lesbian music diva, from his ascendance as unlikely pop icon to otherworldly encounters, the one constant truth is that he’s got no clue what he’s doing. As unrelenting as it is original, Last Burn in Hell is John Edward Lawson at his most scorching intensity, serving up sexy satire and postmodern pulp with his trademark day-glow prose.

The Director’s Cut edition includes:

  • Deleted scenes
  • Alternate ending
  • Photo stills
  • Remastering for more enjoyable viewing
  • And more!

 Click here to buy the book

Rumbullion by Molly Tanzer
Lazy Fascist Press, 2016
Out of Print

About the book:

rumbullionmollytanzerIn the wake of a fateful and fatal party, young, sickly aristocrat Julian Bretwynde decides to interrogate all who were in attendance, including the infamous alchemist, immortal, and liar, the Count of Saint Germain. What Julian will uncover about that night, no one could ever have expected, least of all himself. And even worse, he’ll be forced to decide what’s true among the radically disparate accounts of men and women who stood side by side, watching the same events unfold. As he gets deeper and deeper into his investigation, the killer’s identity grows ever more obscure… as does that of the victim.

Continue reading

21 Transgressive Books (Part 1)

 

by
Daulton Dickey.

(This is part one of a 3 part series. Read Part Two here. Read Part Three here.)

Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways

Without spending too much time elaborating on theories w/r/t transgressive fiction, the above quote is from Wikipedia. Succinct, it offers a broad enough outline to convey the gist of this often ill-defined subset of fiction.

This isn’t a definitive list. It’s also not intended as authoritative. Instead, it’s a list of some transgressive books that have inspired me as a writer—and a person—over the years. Although I should clarify that I don’t love every book on this list. In fact, I find some of them repugnant, their authors appalling, but they’ve still affected me in one way or the other.

If you haven’t read much transgressive fiction, you should do yourself a favor a take a detour into world funny and strange, terrifying, awe-inspiring, and disturbing.

Although this list deals primarily with fiction, I’ve decided to include a few important works of non-fiction and poetry. Continue reading

Two Brief Thoughts on Van Gogh, Artistic Rebellion, and the Mediocrity of Modern Art

by
Daulton Dickey.

1.

People romanticize Vincent Van Gogh as an archetypal “starving artist,” a genius who suffered from poverty and anonymity, only to secure a seat in the Western canon after his death. It’s a touching story, one invoked by countless artists who think they’re not receiving the level of recognition they deserve.

vincent-van-gogh---alienated-artistHis work is familiar to us now, and it’s easy to forget that he wasn’t producing popular, “mainstream” faire. He was an avant-garde artist, a man who rejected convention and orthodoxy. His marginalization in his lifetime wasn’t accidental; he knew he was taking risks; he knew he was doing something new and innovative; and he knew people wouldn’t embrace it.

His willingness to sacrifice everything by pursuing a kind of art that flew in the face of convention, his avant-garde approach to painting, his devotion to his vision kept him destitute and alone. He suffered, at least in part, because he refused to conform. He refused to follow convention. He refused to do what everyone else was doing. And, to me, that makes his story more powerful.

2.

Van Gogh’s art was as erratic and idiosyncratic and revolutionary as the man who painted it. In his day, the institutions—the Academy—shunned him, which deepened his despair. Now, the institutions embrace him. He’s part of the Western canon. But they still ridicule his act of lobbing off a chunk of his ear, an act no more deranged or insane than the act of challenging institutions. Artists don’t call the shots. Institutions do. Artists create or diagnose new landscapes or ailments—mental or material—and the institutions choose to accept or negate or ignore them, locking the culture into a state of inertia. Is slicing off a piece of flesh insane when juxtaposed with a handful of people thrusting other humans into desperation or despair, while engaging millions in mind-numbing mediocrity, the kind of mediocrity responsible for sharks in tanks, reality television, and “alternative facts”?

220px-The_Future_of_Art_-_Damien_HirstContemporary art is so vacuous that no one has bothered to name it. It’s produced by hucksters bereft of talent, artists in name only, such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, and marketed by men and women drunk on cash and credit and absorbed in the solipsism of their inflated egos. And it’s easy to understand how their egos ballooned into absurd proportions: by pedaling twaddle to wealthy morons feigning sophistication, these avatars of institution fake the tastes they force feed the masses. Force-feeding this nonsense to the masses, popularizing it, creating and strengthening brands, establishes value in terms of economics. But the value of the “art” itself doesn’t extend beyond the hype and the hyperbole propagated by the tastemakers bent on establishing demand for rubbish no one would want.

 

 

10701993_837396766280602_3351579916728916760_nDaulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: Stories, Still Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other stories, Elegiac Machinations: an experimental novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novel. Rooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at daultondickey[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Book Review: Sorry, Wrong Country by Konstantine Paradias

by
Daulton Dickey.

Konstantine Paradias is a man of many trades. In a country populated by a seemingly impressive amount of eccentrics, he seems to have encountered them almost daily while in the course of struggling to make ends meet. Depicting life in modern Greece, a country with a long and storied history and currently trapped in a bleak economic spiral, Paradias offers snapshots of weirdos, eccentrics, and everyday folk struggling to live and to enjoy life. A work of non-fiction, this book is hard to fit into any sub-categories: it’s neither memoir nor history nor current affairs, and yet it’s all three. It offers no sustained narrative or heavy-handed thesis. Instead, it’s a collection of vignettes offering snapshots of people the author has encountered throughout his life as a jack of all trades.

sorry wrong countryReading this book is like viewing Greece through a kaleidoscope. Cycling through every short chapter is akin to twisting the kaleidoscope, revealing new colors and images. In the process, and if you pay close attention, it shows you new ways to view and to understand every person you encounter. And that’s where this book’s greatness lies: in focusing on people, usually eccentrics or strangers most people would overlook or ignore, Paradias imbues this book with humanity, with a genuine respect, even love, or at least empathy, for everyone he encounters. Continue reading

Review: Battle Without Honor or Humanity Volumes 1 and 2 by D. Harlan Wilson

by
Daulton Dickey.

dharlandwilson3In an age of corporate omnipotence and adherence to formula, experimental fiction has fallen further into the gaps, obscured by the shadows of genre and ‘safe bets.’ Of the few experimental writers working today, D. Harlan Wilson embraces the shadows, creating works without pretense to genre or formulae.

Wilson eschews orthodoxy in his latest works, Battle Without Honor or Humanity Volumes 1 and 2 (also recently collected in a single volume), and produces a work both maddening and refreshingly different—and new, which is what makes these books so interesting: you’ve not encountered anything like them. As a result, you can’t approach them as traditional novels. If you do, you’ll find the experience of reading these books less than enlightening. Continue reading

3 Things I’ve Learned as an Indie Author

by
Daulton Dickey.

Life as an independent author is different than life as an author published by a transnational corporation. You’ll make little money and find few opportunities to travel to promote your work—and if you do, you’ll probably pay for it yourself. You’ll also see little-to-no mainstream exposure. If you’re lucky, your readers will number in the hundreds. With writers publishing more books now than ever before, thanks in large part to self-publishing, your book could disappear in a universe of white noise the moment it’s released.

If you’re not prepared for the realities of existing as an indie writer, the prospects might appear bleak. They might even thrust you into an existential crisis as they did me: I assumed my books would find readers, I assumed I was meant to write, I assumed I could focus on my writing while other people helped me along the way—and I was wrong in every case. Continue reading

How to Write a Novel in 4 Steps

by
Daulton Dickey.

Writing is hard. Sometimes it’s harder and sometimes it’s easier. Putting words to paper—or producing them on screens—takes blim blam a paramanam focus and attention. Boy you don’t know nothin about anything, ya hear? Aside from the actual work, and writing requires work, you’ve got to find time and motivation, and fight voices shouting doubt and producing anxiety. All day anxiety. Fuck, what the fuck is wrong with me? Why can’t I sit down and just do something without turning it into a catastrophic, life or death scenario? Jesus.

READ READ READ

Before you attempt to write, you’d better read. A lot. Don’t read casually or for the sake of entertainment: study short stories and novels. Dissect them as you read them. Approach a novel as a mathematician might approach a seemingly unsolvable problem. Break it into parts, analyze each part, search for underlying presuppositions. Learn to clench your eyes and crack your neck and scream in tongues. You might even consider 20160601-230511.jpgapproaching text like the exhumed corpse of a flower wilting on decayed flesh. You dig? Nothing means anything and we’re all going to die. Let that sink in. But most importantly: read. No writer worth his or her or their weight in salt should choose not to read—or should forego reading texts closely. The best way to experience and understand the inner workings of a machine is to tear one apart and examine it. Continue reading