Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sex and violence and the end of the world

Vampire Strippers from Saturn

By Vincenzo Bilof

Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing

Pub. Date: March 20, 2015

Rating: 4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut in a three-way with Anne Rice drowning in a sea of splatterpunk and Russ Meyers movies.

That is a fair description of the craziness and raunch in Vincenzo Bilof’s surrealistic and Bizarro sex-gore tribute Vampire Strippers from Saturn. I am relatively sure my intelligent readers know who Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan are. I am positive you all know who Anne Rice is and adventurous enough to be familiar with splatterpunk, surrealism, and Bizarro lit. But if you know who Russ Meyer is, shame on you. The casualness of sex and violence in Bilof’s novel which is essentially a literary experiment of the surreal reminds me of those campy 60s skin films by the famed director. Bilof’s book does vaguely make me think of a Vonnegut version of Faster PussyCat, Kill, Kill. So much so that if I made Vampire Strippers from Saturn into a movie, I would need to get into my own time machine and bring back Kitten Navidad for the lead role. But now I think I have revealed more about myself than I would like…

Nonetheless, Vincenzo Bilof has a deft hand in juggling the visceral with the intellectual. Even in the strangest scenes, his very literary prose gives it fresh meaning and heightens your curiosity of what will follow. I often think Bilof’s plots are secondary to his prose even though Vampire Strippers from Saturn has a very unique and intriguing plot. Vampire strippers from Saturn, actually near Saturn, have come to earth where we Earthlings are the last sentient life in this version of the universe. Their leader Rene is inclined to save it despite the opposition from their enemy, the shapeshifting Plots. However she discovers from a time traveler that saving Earth will usher in an age where women become no more than hunted animals. Now this seems to be a strange concern coming from vampire strippers whose main occupation is drinking blood and ripping off heads. But what is a vampire stripper going to do?

I will be honest with you. I wasn’t always able to follow the plot. It is an issue with Bilof’s style that it tends to overpower the plot and here is no exception. But the wildness of this idea is better suited to his style than the other two books of his that I have read and still recommend. Here he can disobey the rules and the craziness of the plot enables him to go with the flow, so to speak. And it is a rocky and wild flow. Bilof’s ideas was many and they are all over the place. That is one of the strengths in a weird way. A more philosophical reviewer than I could find tons of themes in here. The role of women in a man’s world, the greed of society, the consequences of our basic needs, the contradictions in the idea of free will, only to name a few. They are there if you are looking for them. But if you are not, you will still enjoy the brashness of this book with its sex, violence and all that bad rock music.

I do not pretend to know more than the writers I review. That falsehood seem to be a conceit that we reviewers appear to flaunt but don’t necessarily believe. However as much as I love Bilof’s style I sometime wonder what would happen if it was toned down a bit. There clearly is a Brautigan or Vonnegut amidst the splatterpunk and skin exploitation leanings. But I may be totally wrong. Perhaps the best thing Vincenzo Bilof can do is to give us is Vincenzo Bilof. Sex, gore and all the rest. I mean…we already have Brautigan Vonnegut, and Russ Meyer but who can claim to be Vincenzo Bilof?

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