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The Art of Horrible People Paperback – August 1, 2015
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One more story. Or three. I got caught in "Skipp's Hollywood Alphabet Soup of Horror." I'm a sucker for letters. We have aliens and rewrites, show me the money, honey, and my favorite T is for Me and My TV. Z is definitely for zzz's.
I need to sleep but I like reading about horrible people. The best put it all out there, unapologetic. I believe they exist so people like John Skipp can scratch his head, chuckle at the absurdity and write them into scenes they'd love to live if hey could see their folly becomes the art we love to survive.
Mr. Skipp uses his unique voice to transport us to believable settings, from the modern LA noir-chic scene to a gut-busting redefining of movie industry terms. Then to the shadows where people do horrible things to themselves and others. The collection opens with a tension builder of a horror piece, but it soon spans a full spectrum of emotions, with fantastic moments of love and endearment.
I fully expected to be disturbed and entertained as I read this—and was not let down to say the least—but I never predicted the stories would be so fully-imagined and encompassing as to hit nerves on the emotional side. I love this collection. From its disturbing opening act, all the way through the heart-swelling acknowledgment, John Skipp delivers an incredible page-burner well worth the read! Highly recommended with Five-Stars.
(And holy moly, did I just use the word ‘gallimaufry’ in a sentence?! I don’t think I’ve ever said it out loud. Has anyone ever said the word ‘gallimaufry’ out loud before?)
There is so much going on in this book I’m surprised it doesn’t burst at the seams like the ripe tomato of pathos is rightly is.
There’s horror in here, which if'n you don't know, when Skipp is involved, is always bloody good fun. The lead story, Art is the Devil, is one of my favorites in the book and it’s a tale about beauty and aesthetics and one man’s quest for to discover true ‘art’. At the risk of spoiling it, ALL HELL SOON BREAKS LOOSE. And speaking of hell breaking loose, the last story, Food Fight, is another story where a sort of cosmic madness asserts its jet-black paws into the prose and paints the walls red in its journey towards enlightenment. Much to my sadistic delight, Skipp isn’t afraid to raise the body count, even when the story in question only spans a dozen or so pages.
But it’s not all blood and guts.
The middle of this book is buoyed by two disparate stories that aren't quite as violent as the rest: Skipp’s Alphabet Soup of Hollywood Horror, and Zygote Notes on the Imminent Birth of a Feature Film as Yet Unformed. The first of which is a caustic look at life in 'Hollyweird' when you’re in ‘the business’ and it pulls-no-punches as it skewers the predators and prey alike. Funny and acerbic and full of wit and voice, it really delivers its payload in (alphabetical) spades. But even this story is in turn buoyed by the next, Zygote Notes, which is a dreamlike walk through the mind of a man as he pieces together production notes for a future film, in which the act of creation is romanticized and treated almost like a vision quest, a spiritual journey. The same town that eats dreams alive is also the same town that gives birth the the purest forms of creation, and I don't think it was a mistake that these two stories come successively in this collection.
The book itself is rounded out by two appendixes, both categorically non-fiction.
The first appendix is a small sermon on artists and artistry and the importance drawing a distinction between the two, which is then followed by a list of 1200 artist whom the author felt inspired or impressed him in some profound way.
The second appendix is a heartbreaking, yet joyous, eulogy he wrote for his dog Scooby. It was short and touching and just a really sweet way to end this book, because as this collection illustrates, for all its calamity and horror and laughter and art, life is really about the connections you make and the people (and animals) (and things) that you love.
There are other stories in here that I didn't mention. Jeez, can't we let some of it be a surprise, people? If nothing else sticks from this review, just note this: this book doesn’t deal with maudlin emotions. This is visceral emotion. Visceral reaction. This is the realness.
And I would recommended The Art of Horrible People to anyone who wants to feel real things.