BUST DOWN THE DOOR AND EAT ALL THE CHICKENS #6

Reviewed by Paul Bradshaw

Described on the cover as a 'Journal of Absurd and Surreal Fiction', Bust Down The Door And Eat All The Chickens is a slim trade paperback of barely a hundred pages, with a nice chicken-littered colour cover. It is one of those publications that embraces this newfangled Bizarro genre, a style of fiction that doesn't seem to have any rules or regulations other than it is of a bizarre nature. The content certainly lives up to this claim; not that it works all the time, but then that can be said of every genre, I reckon.

There doesn't seem to be an editorial in this edition, but perhaps the blurb on the back cover serves as an editorial, a blurb that warns the reader not to 'operate journal while on toilet'. All is explained why as you read on. There are nine stories in this issue, of varying length and varying quality. Such Bizarro writers as D Harlan Wilson and Jeremy C Shipp are featured, although the editor's decision to include the first chapter of Wilson's forthcoming novel Blankety Blank left my mind blank as to why he should do this, as indeed any decision to use a novel extract puzzles me. Novel extracts are for novels; and this is not a novel!

Issue #6 opens with Julius Henry's How The Discovery Of A New Element Reflected The Relationship Of Those Who Unearthed It, in which the character Tom attempts to explain to his partner the theory of Schrödinger's cat just after the couple has discovered a new element, his wife's attention somewhat preoccupied by this discovery. This story is unique as it consists entirely of dialogue alone.

In This Is Not What I Meant by Stephen Graham Jones, the employees of a department store are told that an inspector - known only as 'a visitor' - is due to arrive that day. This tale might appeal to any genuine employee who has faced a similar visit from someone (seemingly) important, before which the entire workplace is reduced to a pathetic state of panic. In the Jones story employee Candace is not perturbed in the slightest. She assumes the mode of 'retail normal' when confronted by the visitor... I must remember that!

The dilemma in Andrew Adams' Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus is that the main character is immediately confronted by a scuba diver having sex with his comatose wife. He grabs the scuba diver's foot, which turns out to be a plastic swimfin, pulls the swimfin off to find another swimfin underneath. He ends up pulling off a total of 111 swimfins before he realises that the air tanks on the scuba diver's back are leaking farts... But don't worry, Bizarro fanatics, things get even more bizarre than this as you read further!

The main character in Anthony Neil Smith's Clive Confesses tries to plan a suicide so carefully that his lover at the time discovers him just before he snuffs it, so that he can witness just how much she might miss him and to see her 'hysterics'. Unfortunately things seem to go wrong each time that he tries and his lover at the time gets injured in some way instead of him dying. The inevitable happens and he ends up killing one of his lovers and finishes up in prison... but still planning that suicide!

The final story in the issue is Robo-Trippin' by Joey Goebel, and it appears to be totally different from the rest, as it could be defined as a straight sci-fi tale, albeit of a strange and slightly comic nature. College student Harry loses all his friends when they discover the wonder of drugs and he will not indulge, so his father brings home a DIY robot kit from the lab where he works and assembles a robot companion for Harry. Unfortunately the robot, which is named Norton Semicolon by Harry and his father, succumbs to the wonders of drugs and Harry loses him as a friend also. Never trust a robot companion!

Bust Down The Door And Eat All The Chickens is produced and edited by Bradley Sands and friends, Bradley himself being a successful Bizarro writer. A writer becoming an editor is quite the norm in these circles... and don't I know it! The publication is one of those paperback-style collections as opposed to an actual short fiction magazine, which again appears to be the norm nowadays.

Bust Down The Door And Eat All The Chickens edited by Bradley Sands. Tpb, 104pp, $5.99 plus P&P (for full details and payment options see website).

Website: - www.absurdistjournal.net/index.htm


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