…an ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media that we at Rooster Republic Press find ourselves enjoying. Once a week, on Thursdays, we will showcase new and old works and, hopefully, help spread the word on great stuff you might otherwise miss out on.
RoosterVision was previously the name of our non-fiction imprint, and since those titles and that line of books are no longer, we have decided to resurrect RoosterVision for the purpose of this showcase. Enjoy!
For today’s “RoosterVision” article, we turn our focus towards one of the true unsung gems in the field of Big Weird. And we use the phrase “Big Weird” because it is unfair to label Bruni as just a Bizarro author. He’s really a journeyman at heart, never content to stick to any single genre for too long. However, you can bank on a few things: well-written characters; fucked-up scenarios; violence; black comedy; moments of genuine horror. Brian Keene was right on the money calling Bruni a cross between “Edward Lee and Jeremy Robert Johnson” because Bruni is that good and he is that fucked up.
Sometimes, Bruni stuffs all those ingredients into single short stories. Other times, he spreads his butter across entire novels. What you really gotta ask yourself is: What kind of butter do you like best, a little or a lot?
We discovered Bruni via his short stories. Once upon a time, Strangehouse Books published a now-out-of-print anthology called ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! BRAIN BANG (edited by Nicholas Day) and Bruni’s work simply stood out. It was short and punchy, gross and also heartfelt, and it was plenty bizarre. Grabbing his fiction and getting it into the anthology was a no-brainer.
Bruni is pretty prolific with his short fiction, as a matter of fact. If you scroll through his author page on Amazon, you’ll see all manner of indie anthos listed. Some are still around (NOT YOUR AVERAGE MONSTER) some are no longer (the aforementioned zombie anthology). Luckily, Bruni’s short stories are mostly available in single-author collections. His most recent collection, TALES OF UNSPEAKABLE TASTE, was published by Bizarro Pulp Press in 2020. You can pick it up direct from Journalstone (paperback purchase includes e-book version!) HERE.
Bruni has his second Bizarro Pulp Press release coming out later this year. The book is not a collection, but a novel in the form of an “autobiography” from a long-forgotten member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Like we mentioned earlier, Bruni is not limited to any particular genre. And, if we may be so bold, you could tweak Brian Keene’s assessment and say that Bruni is a mix of Edward Lee and, honestly, Joe R. Lansdale. Because, even though Bruni is jumping from genre to genre, you always know you’re reading Bruni, much in the same way that Lansdale is Lansdale no matter what story he’s telling. That is to say: Bruni has a voice.
Getting into Bruni is an adventure all on its own for readers. There’s crime (STRIP) and horror (BLOOD) and dystopian (POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS) fiction, to say nothing of the short story collections that’ll appeal to the Bizarro folks as well as the Horror crowd. Take your pick!
To paraphrase the great John Waters: Get more out of life. Read some fucked up fiction by John Bruni.