Bizarro is the literary genre of the weird. Noir has its tight-lipped, hard-drinking detectives and gorgeous, cigarette-smoking,long-legged blondes and Bizarro has its cyborg sluts and talking penises.
Bizarro is a bad acid trip. Not in a paranoid everyone is looking at me and they can read my mind and they hate me way. More like a hallucinatory world where brain-meltingly disturbing visions of insanity are the norm. The guy with the lollipop for a head is Bizarro not because he has a lollipop for a head but because his condition is treated as normal. Just another day in the world of Bizarro. It’s Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland for the Internet age. Bizarro is what William Burroughs would’ve written if he were raised on Japanese anime and Adderall instead of radio broadcasts and heroin.
In fact, Burroughs helped usher in the genre with his seminal doombook Naked Lunch. Here’s a clip of William Burroughs reading from Naked Lunch where his demented Dr. Benway performs a rather unsanitary operation. This clip contains some gory and explicit language. If that sort of language offends you then Bizzaro probably isn’t for you. Perhaps you’d like to read about three-legged goats instead. (Check out the photo of Burroughs and Frank Zappa.)
Speaking of Zappa, there’s a great clip of Frank reading the “Talking Asshole” section of Naked Lunch, which, it seems, has mysteriously been removed from the Internet. This pretty awesome reading is still up though.
The Portland-based Eraserhead Press is one of the major publishing houses of Bizarro. Obviously, Bizarro writers take some inspiration from David Lynch, the eccentric Montana-born ex-Eagle Scout and celebrated surrealist filmmaker whose eerie movies include the industrial wastelands of Eraserhead (inspired by Lynch’s time in Philadelphia) and the sordid suburban underbelly of Blue Velvet.
Surrealism, the absurd and black humor all feed the Bizarro flower and help it bloom (and give it that strange smell). Bizarro is the death metal of literature. It’s a literary version of the cult film section of a movie rental store (if they still existed) run by Tim and Eric and the aliens from “The Simpsons.” Can you really resist a genre that includes titles like I, Slutbot; Help! A Bear is Eating Me; Death Machines of Death; Time Pimp; Shatnerquake and Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy?
This Friday, the York Emporium hosts the Bizarros Across America tour from 6-9 p.m. It’s the tour’s only Pennsylvania stop as the authors make their way from Baltimore to Manhattan. The event – billed as an evening of surrealism, laughter, experimentalism and weirdness – features readings from some of the leading writers of the genre including Mykle Hansen, Bradley Sands, Christoph Paul and G. Arthur Brown as well as local writers including Brian Keene, award-winning author of The Rising and the man credited as bringing the zombie genre back from the dead, and horror/thriller writer Kelli Owen, both of whom also dabble in the world of Bizarro. Owen’s Bizarro output includes a heartwarming tale of something called a Garbage Gnome who has a very special relationship with a talking chicken leg.
Does this sound like an event for you?
It does? Wow, you must be really fucked up.
See you there.
Do you have a bizarro side?
Some of these authors will be contributing to the #Fly140 Tweetable Horror Story Project. Do you think you can out-horrify these professional fright writers? Write a tweetable horror story and hashtag it #Fly140. We’ll be writing our own, retweeting yours and ultimately publishing some of our favorites in print. Click here for more info.