Review – Gigantic Death Worm by Vince Kramer (paperback)

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  • Bio: "Vince Kramer is a Bizarro Fiction Novelist living in the Portland, Oregon area, which is considered the mecca of the Bizarro Fiction scene. " - Official Wordpress
  • Label: Eraserhead Press
  • Release Date: October 22nd, 2011
  • Genre: Bizzaro Fiction, Fiction
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

When it comes to bizarro fiction, it seems as though Eraserhead Press has been attempting to corner the market from the underground up. The indie powerhouse of a publisher has a fascination with taking on new authors in the field and giving them a chance to get their feet in the door and start making a name for themselves. It’s a commendable approach that has brought us the short book Gigantic Death Worm, the first published work by author Vince Kramer (Death Machines of Death). Given his coloring book posts on Tumblr, as well as his photography line of action figures having sex, there’s no denying this is probably going to be a pretty twisted tale of giant worms hell-bent on destruction senseless slaughter. But is it something you’ll want to read, or is this debut offering just a flop?

Gigantic Death Worm is the tale of Dave, Mike, and Mike’s girlfriend, Suzanne, all of which on vacation at the local ski resort. The three are essentially your every day slackers who are off to college, but they’d rather be drunk or high, effectively becoming characters you’ll immediately dislike or hate early on due to how they are written. Within the first few pages we find Rosanne giving a ski lift operator oral sex in exchange for free lift passes for the three while Mike and Dave begin to masturbate together to the scene unfolding in front of them. However, the story wastes no time in laying into our trio as they are stranded on said lift and have to face bears, bears that spit out wolves, and brain-eating worms that make short work of Atlanta.

While the story itself has plenty of moments you won’t see coming, they aren’t like red-herrings or mysterious events you would have had the slightest inkling would unfold. Instead, they are mostly random events you’ll never imagine would even happen such as how these worms tie into how the world is supposed to end, and just how lazily the prophecy was executed by the Mayans ahead of 2012. There’s also a plethora of random bouts of humorous mayhem from said worms equal to that of a skyscraper tall Kool-Aid Man sliding through heavily populated areas without a moment’s notice, not to mention flying Mexican ninjas. Oh yes, much of the closing to this story is racially charged, but not in an offensive or insensitive manner beyond the usage of tequila.

And, well, this is where part of the problem starts to rear its head. Most of that spontaneity makes at least the first half of this incredibly short book painful to sit through. Yes, some of the events leading up to the apocalyptic worms being unleashed are comical or just flat-out bizarre and out of nowhere, but it all just hits one after another without rhyme or reason until much later, leaving the book feeling like it was composed by an eight year child that doesn’t fully understand the concept of story structure. A perfect example is during the animal attack when our cast of characters randomly get shields, helmets, not to mention a samurai sword that randomly comes into play. Later they even have fresh clothes, food and griddles, all explained away with nothing more than a shrug and a “yeah, this happens sometimes” attitude.

Vince KramerThankfully a lot of this randomness actually does start to mold together and make sense. All the pieces start to fit, though some are still pretty zany and random without much of an explanation other than it just exists, such as the wolf spitting bears assured to us as existing creatures through one of the many author notes that litter the book. Even if you still don’t quite get the subtext of what author Vince Kramer is going for here, chapter ten explains it to you in a subtle enough manner to help you put it all together. Of course, if you’re too brain-dead to understand it, the following chapters will eventually beat it into your skull.

It’s also unfortunate that the book itself is as short as it is. While on-line stores list the page count at eighty-eight, Gigantic Death Worm only clocks in at about sixty pages total when you cut out the introductions from the editor, author, documentary information, as well as the catalogue in the back featuring the many other Eraserhead Press titles available. You can even knock it down another page or two if you cut out the page breaks between paragraphs. Due to the length, it actually feels kind of rushed and, if you read the author introduction, you’ll learn it kind of was. In it, Vince thanks another writer named Carlton Mellick for filling him in on “how you can write a book in just three days.” Had more time been spent on this, the first half probably wouldn’t feel so rocky a path to travel, and the ending may have paid off a little more.

But, all that said, Gigantic Death Worm isn’t that bad a book, especially as a debut outing composed around the bashing of the 2010 survival flick Frozen. It’s clear Vince’s metal roots play a role in the crafting of the story, which just has an eighties crust-punk meets crossover thrash “I don’t give a fuck” attitude behind each chapter with an overall lasting appeal comparable to a Troma Video release from the eighties to early nineties. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is completely up to you and how you take to the man’s style of writing, as it definitely isn’t for everyone. Gigantic Death Worm isn’t one of the most memorable entries into the bizarro fiction realm, but its a decent enough start for Mr. Kramer despite the rushed qualities that linger.

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.