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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Let it Bleed

Title: Let it Bleed
Author: S.L. Schmitz
Page Count: 409 pages (pdf format)
Publisher: Alternating Reality Books, Inc.
Genre: supernatural mythpunk (author's own words)
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

1983. A Razorblade Boy, lead singer with an obscure industrial band. A Dead Girl, a wandering, bruised waif living on the edge of madness. One’s the voice of youth - the other, the mother of the next Savior of the human race.

But there’s a problem – the Dead Girl was only meant to produce the Savior, not fall in love with the Razorblade Boy. That means trouble for All-God – catastrophic trouble, with cosmic repercussions. The Dead Girl, All-God’s most beloved and most damaged of all his creations, becomes a beacon of assault for all those beings of Light and unLight, and her fall into spiritual decline threatens to unleash forces beyond even the comprehension of the most enlightened human.

The Angels of the Apocalypse are standing in the wings, just waiting for the trigger.... the Razorblade Boy or the Savior – which is it to be?

It is safe to say that Let it Bleed is quite unlike anything I've read before.  Others have made references to writers like Kerouac and Ginsberg, and I can see where they're coming from, but beyond the first blush similarity in the sometimes ethereal, sometimes rambling prose that teeters on the bring of unconsciousness, this story stands apart.

This story is a retelling of the story of Mary and Joseph set against the underground punk scene of 1980s Midwestern America.  I arrived at the punk rock half of the description on my own, but probably would not have guessed at the religious references on my own.  Once I was pointing in the right direction, the references were much more clear.

These are not the Mary and Joseph of Sunday School yesteryear- Mary is portrayed by The Dead Girl, a strung out mess who finds herself cohabitating with The Razorblade Boy, the lead singer of a local band of some repute and an unwilling Joseph.  Infatuation is a fair way to describe the emotions between these two; despite being a talented musician, The Razorblade Boy is no catch, and The Dead Girl is an easy victim to her own self-destructive tendencies.

The author's love for the music and culture of the 1980s punk scene is clear throughout the story.  The prose is lilting and beautiful, and sometimes I paused just to consider the imagery that two words next to each other evoked.  I found at the end of each chapter that I wasn't always able to articulate what had gone on in the chapter before to predict what the next chapter might bring, but the lyricism of the words kept me reading when the non-linear plot might have given me pause.

I confess myself unfamiliar with elements of Gnosticism that were apparently present in the story and that's okay- like I said, my interest was held by the word usage from the start of this book until the end.  In the Acknowledgements section, the author says that this book took forever to write, and I can totally see how- the level of detail and the intensity of the wording reminded me of lace or embroidery- the kind that takes the maker an eternity to make but lingers once it's complete.

As a side note, I learned that "mythpunk," according to the mythpunk Wikipedia page, is "a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy."  I think that Let It Bleed definitely falls into this category.  Reading it is an investment of time, and some folks may find the slippery nature of the story problematic, but those who are looking for something different are definitely in for an experience here.

Overall Grade: B
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