Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Psychosomatic is a nasty piece of work. It's one of those books where after you put it down, you feel both disturbed and assured by the knowledge that yes, there is someone out there who likes their escapism just as sick and wrong as you yourself do. This book is demented, gross, disturbing, and funny as all hell. In other words, it's only for members of the hardcore club. We're talking like Allan Guthrie hardcore, here, folks. Fucked up shit.

The books starts with a hot chick whose lost her arms and legs named Lydia. Her drug dealing ex-husband Ronnie has been a douche to her ever since she lost all her limbs in a car accident, going so far as to stop by her place with another woman and fuck her brains out while Lydia has to sit there helplessly and watch.

That shit will not play with Lydia.

She hires an idiot ex-prizefighter named Cap to beat the shit out of Ronnie for three grand, only to later learn that Cap is an old associate of Ronnie's. Cap tells Ronnie about his wife's scheme which gives Ronnie an idea. He gives fat loser Alan Crabtree forty bucks to film the fight, has him pose as an innocent Zapruder who just happened to have his camcorder with him at the right time. Crabtree agrees and films it, only to get footage of the idiot Cap accidentally killing Ronnie. Thinking fast, Crabtree kills Cap and makes it look like the two men did each other in. Afterwards he stops by Lydia's place to tell her what went down, only to get laid by the stumpy seductress.

Soon enough, Crabtree is Lydia's bitch, the femme fatale using her sexuality to turn Crabtree into her puppet, a puppet who will help her climb to the top of the drug trade. Throw in a pair of frat boys car-jackers turned cop-killers, a crazy goth girl in an old-fashioned nurse's uniform, a redneck X dealer, a few rapes, and a ton of murders and you have Psychosomatic, one of the craziest books I've read in a good goddamned while.

Now, as you can tell from the plot summary, this book boasts some bizarre low-lifes and a crazy plot, but what makes it really sing is its sharp prose, the hilarious dialogue, and the very original use of Gulf Coast locations. This is a world we've never seen before and Smith reveals it slyly and carefully despite the briskness of Psychosomatic's pace. Also, though the characters might sound like a bunch of wacky cartoons, somehow Smith makes them feel real, their motivations human.

I mean, hell, who wouldn't want to sleep with a hot amputee? Wait...did I just develop a new personal fetish? DAMN YOU SMITH!!!

So, if you like your fiction to completely cross the line, you can't go wrong with Psychosomatic.

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