Print Length: 170 pages
Publisher: JournalStone – (Bizarro Pulp Press)
Publication Date: July 31, 2015
1. Do not respond to bad reviews.
2. If you must respond to bad reviews, please do not kidnap the reviewer.
3. If you must kidnap the reviewer, do not kidnap him in a public area.
4. If there are witnesses, do not also kidnap them.
5. If you also kidnap the witnesses, consider quitting crystal meth.
6. If you find yourself surrounded by hostages, purchase extra duct tape.
7. Do not let the hostages take their own hostages.
8. Invest in better coffee.
9. Don’t forget: dildo crucifixes have more than one use.
10. And, most importantly: do not engage the severed heads in conversation.
It should be noted that this review was written under extreme duress. Once I agreed to write it, a poorly disguised Max Booth III let me out of the trunk and handed me a bloodstained pen. I didn’t even want to think about what happened to the reviewer that pen once belonged to.* **
I’ve been wanting to read Max Booth III’s work for a long time and had initially planned to read THE MIND IS A RAZORBLADE first. But then I read the premise of this one I’m going to talk about today and knew I had to read it stat. So THE MIND IS A RAZORBLADE will come another day but, over the course of this review, I’m going to tell you why you should read that one, this one, and anything else he’s written or might write in the future.
Max Booth III is a diverse guy. He wears several different hats, some of which I talked about with him last week, including publisher, editor, columnist, and hotel night auditor. Oh, and author. And, as I understand it, his books are as diverse as he is. He’s written hardcore crime-noir in TOXICITY, horror–also with a noir feel to it–in THE MIND IS A RAZORBLADE, and tongue in cheek bizarro in the flash fiction collection THEY MIGHT BE DEMONS. There’s more but I’m going to stop there. You get the point and those aren’t the books I want to talk about here. HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS is another departure for Max and further proof that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about genre.
I don’t read a lot of humor, mostly because I have a somewhat offbeat sense of humor and it’s hard to find material that doesn’t seem trite or shallow to me. Nor am I a fan of some of the juvenile bathroom humor that a lot of authors resort to in their attempts to be funny. But there are some few that I find to be genuinely funny while at the same time being intelligent and telling a good story along with the humor. One author that fits into that niche admirably is Max Booth III. HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS is a somewhat self deprecating tale in that it makes fun of people like Max: indie publishers, editors, authors, and others of that ilk. It also makes fun of people like me: online book reviewers. But it is by no means noninclusive or inaccessible. There’s something in there for anyone who enjoys a great story.
And HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS is a great story. As usual, I won’t synopsize this too much. It’s the story of a book reviewer–granted, an asshole book reviewer–who is kidnapped by a meth crazed bizarro author who attacks him and throws him in the trunk of a stranger’s car, throwing the driver in behind him for good measure. From that point the story rapidly spirals into chaos, getting stranger and more uproariously brutal as the book progresses. That’s it. Read the book to find out more. This is the point where I tell you what I think really makes this book work. First off is the point that I’ve already beaten almost to death: the humor. The book is packed with unapologetic, gut busting sarcasm throughout. Nary a sentence goes by without a laugh. Have you ever read about someone getting stabbed in the throat and nearly pissed yourself laughing? I have, and you will too when you read this book.
But it doesn’t stop at just humor. Max Booth III has a voice that’s all his own, and his exceptional storytelling prowess pulls this whole thing together and makes it work astonishingly well. The writing is polished, the pacing is perfect and the character development is solid, keeping you fully engaged in the story, in my case reading it in two extremely fast sessions, unable to drag myself out of the hyper-realistic settings that Booth has created. The book reads like one long action scene, beginning with the first paragraph and driving the story at a breakneck pace to the final uproarious paragraph, possibly, shockingly, the funniest passage in the entire book. Which is hard to fathom because the whole damn thing is hysterical.
Rife with dildo crucifixes, serial killers, tweakers, and–scariest of all–writers, HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS is a masterful blend of satire, bizarro, and horror, and I’m not sure if there are words enough in the English language to tell you how much fun I had with this book. For a relatively short novel, weighing in around 170 pages, this is a huge read that I will return to again, quite possibly multiple times. If you haven’t experienced the sheer entertainment that is Max Booth III, you should fix that. Follow the links below to buy his books and check out his Amazon author page to learn more about him. Also have a gander at Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. They’re publishing risky, gritty, high quality fiction like nothing you’ve read before.
About Max Booth III: Max Booth III is the author of four novels. His mom has read at least one of them. He’s the Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and an ongoing columnist at Litreactor.com. He works as a hotel night auditor in a small town outside San Antonio, TX. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit him at http://www.talesfromthebooth.com.