LegumeMan Books, 142 pages, paperback, $9.95
There is no simple way to describe Bradley Sands’ fiction, but “superretardo anarchy awesomeness” is a good start. The concept is from Sands’ newest release, TV Snorted My Brain, and perfectly portrays what lies inside the book. Besides being one of the most recognizable voices in bizarro fiction, Sands is also one of the funniest authors you will ever read. The titles of some of his previous work are enough to get a chuckle out of readers: Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, and Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy (a collection of short fiction).
In TV Snorted My Brain, Artie Pendragon is a lonely, chubby teenager who loves anarchy, pee-wee soccer games, and midget wrestlers. He lives with his mom, his uncle (whom his mom married after his father’s death), and his evil little sister. Life at home is awful. Between his mom and uncle’s penchant for having loud, unattractive sex in strange places, his sister’s attitude, and the fact that every show on television is mind-numbingly stupid and no one can get the remote control to work, Artie can only think about anarchy and death. He also really hates high school and plans to blow it up with a homemade bomb, but his plan is interrupted when he manages to make the remote control work and the entire family is sucked into TV Land.
Since he is the only one who can make the remote control work, Artie is declared king of TV Land, but his happiness is short-lived. After taking the throne, his uncle steals it from him, along with his new wife, and enforces a strict policy of censorship throughout the land. To defeat his uncle, take back what is rightfully his, and allow everyone to “go anarchy,” Artie has to find the Holy Grail, which is the only thing that will make the remote control work properly. What follows is a strange adventure full of bizarre characters and nonstop action.
Part modern-day retelling of the King Arthur myth (Excalibur 3000 remote control and Merlin included), part critical study of contemporary television, and part unadulterated bizarro comedy, TV Snorted My Brain is the kind of book that defies categorization. On the surface, Sands delivers a barrage of entertaining weirdness that includes violent penguins in tuxedos wielding deadly umbrellas, a psychotic barbarian prince dealing with clinical depression, and a character that’s an Internet forum for neo-Nazis. If none of that makes sense but sounds wildly entertaining to you, welcome to the world of Bradley Sands.
For any reader looking to be entertained, the elements described above should be enough. However, for those willing to scratch the surface, Sands’ work is full of poignant critiques and sharp satire. TV Snorted My Brain pokes fun at television, family values, and those anarchists (you probably know one) who will talk about anarchy all day, but reply that they don’t like classical music if you ask them their thoughts on Bakunin.
Sands often blends absurdity and satire with impossible worlds and wacky characters, but TV Snorted My Brain is his best work to date. Call me crazy, but I think this generation has found its own Vonnegut.