A Hollow Cube Is A Lonely Space
by S.D. Foster
Eraserhead Press (2011)
I thought I had read bizarro fiction before. Apparently I was wrong, because this collection was truly bizarre.
It's a genre I've seen floating about the periphery of my reading tastes, but unlike other genres that I've read to satisfy my curiosity, I've kept bizarro at arms length. Then S.D. Foster contacted me, looking for a review a few months back with this collection, so I decided it was time I gave it a chance.
Now, Eraserhead Press has a habit of scouting out promising new talent in the genre and showcases these authors in their "New Bizarro Author Series." with this collection coming out late last year. I'm a mere neophyte, but I'd say they found some real talent with Mr. Foster.
The collection is a light hundred-plus pages, but S.D. manages to pack twenty-three stories into the book, each story more twisted than the last. As a monster fan, a stand-out for me was "Slothra," about an aging giant monster rampaging rather sullenly as the new monster on the block takes the limelight. The first story of the book, "The Course of Clementine," really sets the tone for the book and gives a really clear indication for newcomers to the genre on what to expect from the rest of the book. Just imagine a Clementine orange growing up with dreams of being eaten and enjoyed after hearing tales of adventure from the tree on which it grew, then meets a startling realization that not all fruit has such a great and exciting existence. Effing weird, man.
Another early favorite was "The Marvelous Head" and its tale of a male socialite with ogre-ish features that make him the belle of the ball, until his features start to fade and he seeks unconventional means of garnering the attentions of his contemporaries. It's a gruesomely whimsical satire that I quite enjoyed. Humor couple with horror worked really well with "The Lingering Death of Christmas," that has a family fretting over something that's died in their chimney. Yup.
Nothing is predictable, very little is conventional, and while readers might find it disorienting, all of it is interesting. And for me, more than a couple times, it was downright fun. One thing I noticed with the truly bizarre stuff that S.D. wrote was the shorter, the better. I think this is a style of writing that suits itself very well to flash fiction length stories, and many of the stories in this collection fit in that category. And the longer works that crept over a couple thousand words didn't hold my attention as much.
A Hollow Cube felt a bit like walking through a corn maze decorated with surrealist paintings. You may have a good idea of where you're at in the beginning of any one story, but it will not take more than a sentence before you've turned a corner and wind up in Albuquerque.