SKULLCRACK CITY by Jeremy Robert Johnson (Lazy Fascist Press)
If you weren’t already aware of Jeremy Robert Johnson from his fantastic ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE and/or WE LIVE INSIDE YOU, you’ve probably read or heard his name recently with the release and high-praise of 2015’s SKULLCRACK CITY. Let me add one more voice to the chorus of acclaim. This book is goddamn awesome. White-collar drone S.P. Doyle has a lot of problems. He’s got a pretty mean Hex addiction, he’s got some – possibly poor – plans to take down the bank he works for, he may have just stumbled upon a pretty terrible secret, and now he’s being framed for murder, but there are also these horrible creatures after him, and he is probably being tracked and he can’t even call Mom without wondering what those clicking sounds are. But at least he’s got his loyal turtle, Deckard, and he might be falling for the one person he can trust to help him out of this mess, Dara, but things are always so much more complex than we’d like to imagine.
At the risk of being a lazy reviewer, I can’t help but compare this to the work of Philip K Dick and, to a lesser extent, it also reminded me of a much crazier GUN, WITH OCCASIONAL MUSIC by Jonathan Letham. So much fucking wacko shit happens in this book, and it’s all super fun to witness. We see our hero deconstruct and implode in a plethora of ways, all the while wondering if he’ll make it through. Propelled by the same fears and doubts we all have, just placed within the confines of much stranger circumstances, I though Johnson tapped into a very human character, and then pushed him to the brink of what that means. This book is incredibly rich, funny, and oddly touching (like Doyle’s love for Deckard) and that makes this book much deeper than it could have been in the hands of a lesser writer. I highly recommend that you check it out, and I look forward to what Johnson has up his sleeve next. (Sam Richard)