Staff Book Reviewer Jessica Maybury is a recent graduate of the MA in Writing programme from NUI, Galway, Ireland. Her work has appeared in Nth Word, Word Riot and Prick of the Spindle, among other places. Her Web site is jmaybury.blogspot.com.
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On first impressions, The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You Is a Robot is a charming little chapbook. The paper feels good in the hands. The cover has a really cool picture of a robot with ‘rape’ and ‘off’ switches. Just lovely.
Opening it, however, was to unleash a flood of the grotesque, the disturbing and the disturbed. The stories are violent and cutting. If they were colours they’d be red and black all mixed and striped together in the most horrible ways possible. The stories are short and abrupt, lasting in the mind like a news report on a killing spree, or vicious animal cruelty, nuclear bombs.
But I couldn’t stop reading.
Why, I hear you ask. What on earth could have been so compelling. I admit that I do have a taste for the macabre. Anything with blood in it, or darkness, or defeat and sadness, and I’m sold. This collection has all of those things. Reading it, while repulsed, I also had a tiny feeling at the very core of me that was acting like a child in a sweetshop. And you know what? I don’t think that I’m the only person to have responded this way to this collection. Even so-called ‘normal’ people seem to be giving it rave reviews. It gets its hooks into you and feeds. Slowly. You’re drawn in. You can’t escape. You can’t drag your eyes from the page.
Enough superlatives. Time for titbits. For an opening: “I opened my mother like a smile.” As for characters: “The man in the Marge Simpson wig looked so cool on t.v. doing cocaine off the blade of a knife,” and, “Mary had a habit of making origami dildos when her husband wasn’t looking.” For landscape: “The bathroom crypt is a stall for blowjobs and indigestion and it’s never pretty when they go together.” Also, of course, my favourite (quoted in full, “Pangaea”):
My right hand clutched the back of his neck like a toothless wolf’s mouth. “Not on the sheets or the carpet,” I hissed. I wanted no continents formed in my apartment.