Monday, July 11, 2011

REVIEW: The Ass Goblins of Auschwitz by Cameron Pierce
Author: Cameron Pierce
Publisher: Eraserhead Press

Did you even know that books like this exist? The Ass Goblins of Auschwitz is one of the most bizarre, grotesque, and disgusting books I've ever read, but for the life of me, I wasn't able to put it down. I literally read the entire 104 page novella in an evening. It's a kick in the pants and a shock to your system you won't soon forget.

First of all, let me address a few criticisms I had about the piece right off the bat (so we can get to the good stuff). The use of Nazi imagery is tacked on in the worst way. It's quite probably a very self-aware decision by the author to provide additional marketability to his concept and add a sort of shock-rock factor. The ass goblins themselves have nothing to do with Nazi Germany. Swastikas are mentioned abundantly, and Adolf Hitler is the name of the most hideous and powerful of ass goblins, but Auschwitz is merely the city they live in, and it really has nothing at all to do with World War 2, the holocaust, real Nazism, Germany, etc. The story would've been just as strong without the additional Nazi imagery plastered on for added appeal. I might argue that in some ways it distracted from the otherwise impressive originality of the story because so many other authors have used the same trick.

Another critique many might have of this book is its use of children as protagonists in such a dark and violent world. The story makes no qualms about tearing children apart, having them being turned into "cider", subjecting them to forced cannibalism, mutation, and just about every unfortunate circumstance you can imagine (like eating your own organs). That being said, the word "Children" in this story is tacked on just as much as the Nazi imagery. The characters behave entirely unlike children in their maturity and complexities, and it's more correct to say that they belong to a species of children whose homeworld is called "Kidland". And that leads into the recurring theme of the novella: childhood/innocence lost.

At least, that's what I thought the theme to be. Much ado was made about the loss of childhood, about how the Ass Goblin scientist (the White Angel) was performing experiments to make the ass goblins happy like children were in their natural habitat, and about how the children, after undergoing certain (spoiler-free) changes, could never go back to really being children. Keep your eyes out for this theme if you choose to read the book and let me know if you agree or not.

The things I loved about this book though were what made it so enthralling. The imagery used was well-described and aggressively original and imaginative. The ass goblins are quite unlike any other thing that has appeared in fiction to date. The characters are also given just enough time to develop enough for us to understand them, yet at times I felt as though they were merely vessels of a much greater story.

The writing style is anything but amateur and there were some truly great lines scattered throughout the piece. The plot is very coherent despite the absurdity of the premise, and the ending, though maybe a bit rushed, is an epic scene that is to be read at least twice.

Do I recommend this book? Well, yes, definitely. But if you are not into bizarro fiction, cannot stomach gore and grossness in your stories (and there is LOTS of both), or are offended by the Nazi overtones or the graphic abuse and killings of "children", then you should pass. Those of you able to approach the book with a truly open mind are likely to come away either with mixed feelings or, like me, immediately searching Amazon for more content by the same author.

NOTE to readers: If you want to submit your own book reviews of any horror/bizarro/weird fiction book released in the last few years (especially indie stuff), I'd be happy to look it over for the website. I read lots of books so I'll try to post more reviews like this whenever I have a chance. I'm also looking for flash fiction, especially relating to bizarro fiction, zombies, the Cthulhu mythos, or goretastic hardcore horror, though I'm also open to more subtle pieces.

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