G. Arthur Brown Joins Rooster as Head Editor

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Art by Jarvis Chickpea

The proceeding is an interview with the supposed G. Arthur Brown. 


First, feel free to give a little background on yourself and your own written work.

I started writing absurd proto-Bizarro fiction long ago (c. 1996), before it had a name or I knew there was a market for it. This was also before I knew there were quasi-popular writers like Mark Leyner or Donald Barthelme or Thomas Pynchon who just didn’t give a rat’s ass about the conventions of popular fiction, and before I’d read any Kafka. So I gave up on writing for a long time, not picking it up again until about 2007, with the added advantage of having now read Borges, Burroughs, and Ionesco, as well as having seen many bizarre and highly inspirational films, such as Cemetery Man, Mulholland Drive, Schizopolis, Naked Lunch, and Dead Alive. Then, I stumbled upon the Bizarro community and the rest is history.

My first book, Kitten, was published by Eraserhead Press as part of the New Bizarro Author Series in 2012. I immediately earned so much money that I purchased a solid gold yacht, which promptly sank, leaving me penniless—the entire hold was filled with my extensive penny collection and, in retrospect, may have quickened the sinking. In 2014, I released a flash fiction collection titled I Like Turtles, which was nominated for a Wonderland Award. And in 2016, my second novella, Governor of the Homeless, emerged from the fledgling Psychedelic Horror Press. Rumor has it I still write and may have something coming out next year.

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What draws you to a narrative work?

A strong, highly weird premise with an idiosyncratic narrative voice. Ultimately, I find that if I don’t care how a writer is telling the story then plot alone is not really enough to sell me. But at the same time I hate the snobbery of capital-L Literature. I like a fun story told smartly, somewhere between pulp and academic bullshit.

What’s the deal with all these chemtrails?

They killed Prince, that’s for sure. I think now that we don’t have Ziggy Stardust to protect us from the Centaurians, it’s open season on celebrities with all kinds of dastardly chemical attacks. (“Stardust” is an obvious warning about extraterrestrial CHEMTRAIL plots.)

Are there any authors whose works you wished were more widely read?

Brian Evenson would be the main one, though he seems to be getting more attention in the past couple of years. Still, he should be taught in every writing course in America. The guy can do so many amazing things with words that he can write two or three permutations of the same basic premise and make them all into distinct, compelling stories that still blow my mind. He has the gift to span popular fiction to literature to the utterly bizarre, from humorous to horrific. I recommend The Wavering Knife to all fans of short fiction and Last Days to people who prefer longer works.

Brian Allen Carr and Laura Lee Bahr, though they ought to be starting a detective agency called Carr & Bahr, are two of my current favorite authors whom I’d like to see getting more attention for their weird and artful prose. I look forward to new releases from them both like a kid waiting for Christmas (or Jewish Christmas, if you are not French Orthodox).

And of course everyone should be reading Kelly Link, but I don’t think my sheet cred (like street cred but from the sheets of paper that writers write on) is going to do much to boost her already successful career. However, I do feel that a lot of people who like weird stuff probably don’t read her because 1) she’s a girl—and there is still a bias against female authors as not being EXTREME enough—and 2) she’s got a Fantasy association that makes a lot of people who came from Horror want to dismiss her as irrelevant. But I came from a Fantasy background and I’ll meet you with chain or nozh or britva anytime.

As a reader, what kills a story for you?

Bad dialogue, where it reads as if the writer is speaking directly out of the mouths of all the characters. Bad dialogue, where it reads as if the writer is trying to imitate dialect they’ve only seen on an episode of Quincy (that’s old school CSI). Attempts to inject politics where they don’t belong. Predictable plots that lack self-awareness. Pretentious displays of formal experimentalism (that lack tongue-in-cheek self-awareness). Stories that are so plot driven that the characters become irrelevant. Too many similes. Not enough similes. CHEMTRAIL has also killed many stories.

Any literary pet peeves?

Yeah, I guess. I don’t like it when there’s a character—say, a guy in a jean jacket—to whom the author then feels entitled to refer by the ad hoc nickname “Jean Jacket.” You are a dick if you do this in real life (Sup, Jean Jacket?) and no less so on the page. Trust me, “the guy in the jean jacket” is a fine way to reference this character. Better yet, just give the dude a name. (His name is probably Chad or Larry. If he also has a mustache, that’s Russel.)

Clichés kill me too, unless they are self-aware (if you aren’t getting the drift yet, I’m partial to postmodern approaches). Also, confusion of words in common phrases drives me nuts. If you are going to use a cliché, at least make sure you are phrasing it correctly: champing at the bit, stanching the flow, testing your mettle, home in, that doesn’t jibe with, bated breath, pore over, toe the line, shoo in, free rein, set foot in, wreak havoc, beck and call, pique my interest, etc. You’d be surprised how many of these slip by editors in an incorrect form and make it to print. I always notice these errors and mark it down in my journal. All my journals are then sent to the Galactic Headquarters for analysis to decide whether Earth can be admitted to the Council of Planets.

And I hate it when people try to avoid directly referencing the ethnicity of a character and try to use “creative” ways to describe the person that end up portraying exactly the kind of condescending tone the author hoped to avoid. Just come out and tell us the ethnicity if it’s going to be important to understanding the character. If it’s not important, then don’t bother describing it at all.

What kind of projects do you look forward to bringing to Rooster Republic?

My vision is to work with creative authors who write quirky, fun, moderately smart (probably no books with “poop” in the title [unless they are self-aware{see: Postmodernist Preference}]) stories told in a distinctive voice—stories that are too weird for the mainstream but still accessible on some level. Humor, absurdity, and surreal elements are highly desired but not necessarily required. If your work has been compared to any of the writers I reference above, esp. Carr and Bahr, or has been highly influenced by stuff like Time Bandits, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Big Trouble in Little China, or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, send it my way. If your favorite screen writer is Charlie Kaufman or your favorite director is Quentin Dupieux or Guy Maddin, definitely send me something. And if you think Wilfred and The Leftovers are two of the best TV shows ever, you are probably on my exact wave length.

Any current projects that you’d like to make readers aware of?

Project: End CHEMTRAIL still needs funding. This is a special mission where people send me money so I can eat burritos to stave off the effects of CHEMTRAIL flu. Contact me to find out how to contribute to this very important cause.

eyepatchYou can contact G. at garthurbrown@hotmail.com

New Release! Petroleum Precinct: Grudge Punk 2

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Rooster Republic Press proudly presents the highly-anticipated sequel to Grudge Punk… 

The King of Eyes is dead. Long live the King.

The Grudge just ain’t what she used to be. In the aftermath of a bloody mob war, the city is without a kingpin, but not short of hoods spoiling to claim the title. Into the fray steps Lieutenant Sternhammer, of the reviled and corrupt Grudgehaven Police Department.

His mission: rebuild the reputation of his fellow cops and re-establish their dominance in the eyes of the public. His target: the cunning and ruthless gangster, Chupa Junior. His battleground: Chupatown, the worst slum in the city.

No easy task, even without all those other little complications, like headless jazz musicians, duplicitous pimps, a serial killer targeting gold-hearted women and whatever strange, powerful mystery lurks within the bowels of…

PETROLEUM PRECINCT

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Click picture to order directly from Amazon.

New to Grudge Punk? Check out the first book here.
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13514394_10153766693928233_1400239124_nJohn McNee is the writer of numerous strange and disturbing horror stories, published in a variety of strange and disturbing anthologies, as well as the novel ‘Prince of Nightmares’.
He is also the creator of Grudgehaven and the author of ‘Grudge Punk’, a collection of short stories detailing the lives and deaths of its gruesome inhabitants.
He lives on the west coast of Scotland, where he works for a trade magazine. He can easily be sought out on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.


The evolution of a cover.

Like children, it takes a village to raise a book. This cover in particular was born of two artists. Here’s the birth, to the final cover.

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Until we landed here-
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Printers Row, or Being Weird in Broad Daylight

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From left to right: John Bruni, D.F. Noble, MP Johnson, Michael Allen Rose, and Sauda Namir.

It was a last minute kind of gig for us. Michael Allen Rose (we met in a bathroom at BizarroCon and quickly became friends shortly after) invited us up to this show in Chicago. Last year, several of the presses in the Bizarro community had teamed up to showcase their books at Printers Row, and since Nick and I were now carrying the torch for Rooster Republic Press, we figured it’d be a good idea to represent. Right there on the street. In broad daylight.

We gathered up some of the new releases, took a four hour road trip to Chicago, bought a goofy Batman cowboy hat, and stopped at Michael’s apartment (who was putting up us for the weekend). Mr. Rose and the lovely Sauda Namir welcomed us in to meet with Eric Hendrixson (author of the new book Drunk Driving Champion from Eraserhead Press), and then Michael introduced me to the cult of Malort.

Or as Nick calls it, “Bum piss filtered through a leather boot.”

It was bad, but not that bad. Going down isn’t the problem, the weird gym locker and batteries after-taste is where it really shines. We ordered Mexican food, played some party games with their friends, and wound ourselves down to prep for the show.

But wait a minute. I gotta tell you about this game. Remember the “You Don’t Know Jack” game? Of course you do, you old fart. Well, they put it on Xbox and your smart phone acts as a controller. One of the games on the unholy thing offers prompts where you’ve got a limited amount of time to either come up with a great lie or the weirdest shit you can. No one knows who wrote what. Then you vote on a winner.

A room full of writers being assholes is amazing. I like games, but hardly ever do they make me laugh or go, “That fucker. That was good. I should steal that.” It’s like a micro-fiction piece, and you have a deadline of about 30 seconds.

I received this prompt.

What’s the best way to survive a shark attack?

I entered my answer on my phone. A few rounds later, the prompt appears on the Tv and two bubbles pop up to reveal the answers. The other person answered with-

“You shit so hard you fly to safety.”

Nick Day, everybody. Swoosh.

Anyway, I had six more shots and finally went to bed.

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THE MORNING AFTER

A quick walk around Printers Row made it pretty easy to see we were the weird kids in the bunch. I think that works in our favor. Amidst a sea of Big Five books, Bizarro is pretty damn easy to spot. Just a neon sign flashing, “WANT DIFFERENT? WANT NEW?” So, snuggled up with the NYT’s best, we laid out the goods.

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Four presses on two tables. Maybe five. Maybe a dozen including their imprints. Eraserhead Press, Lazy Fascist, Broken River, Bizarro Pulp Press, Rooster Republic Press, Fireside Press, and WeirdPunk Books. All of us together for fun in the sun.

Saturday was no slouch. There was a huge fireball in the sky, something I haven’t seen for some time, and it was mega-hot. We clung to the shadows as noon approached, praying to our dark lord for an eclipse, but he set us to suffer for our love and we thus submitted to the fire.

Basically, Saturday was hot as fuck. But we still sold a lot of books and spread the gospel. One of the main things I would hear from people new to Bizarro was, “I love your covers.” And dammit, they should. These presses do a fine job of making sure their works stand out. Sometimes people would approach, smiling and excited, and we’d engage in conversation, joke, and sell a copy or two. Others would approach, their eyes lit up with intrigue, only to turn their face to sour grape mode as they read some of the titles.

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People watching is a joy. That reaction of excitement and laughter is the usual experience, but the disapproving scowls are just as good. Maybe better. Either way, with around 200 books sold I’d call it a good day for Bizarro.

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Saturday night, Michael and Sauda introduced us to a heavy metal themed hamburger bar. Dethklok roared as we tried to end it all with massive hamburgers with names like The Electric Chair and The Death Sentence. We were pregnant with meat and somehow sauntered back to Michael’s apartment where we drifted off to pretzel bun dreams as Sealab from Adult Swim played in the background.

And while I can run you through the daily events that transpired over Sunday, I would rather let this picture tell you. Our very own Nicholas Day chased down the mayor of Chicago to snap a pic.

Half asleep,
D.F. Noble

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For more leads on your weird quest, check out http://www.bizarrocentral.com