Now these are bizarre texts. Two really weird trips. It’s as if David Firth, Chuck Palahniuk and the reanimated corpse of the Marquis de Sade all sat down one fine afternoon and decided to write two collections of short stories. The culprits here, however, are P. M. Buchan, who sits firmly at the helm of both projects, and a handful of other writers and artists.
Blackout and Blackout II: YOLO hold together like Palahniuk’s Haunted or Bret Easton Ellis’s The Informers. While there are some subtly interlinking plots and dialogue, the stories aren’t exactly woven together. They do, however, all share some common themes of depravity: suicide; necrophilia; torture; murder; sadomasochism; and extreme sexual deviancy. “Object of My Affection II”, for example, is a wild tale about a man who objectifies his blow-up sex doll only to slowly transform into an inflatable sex doll himself. Still humanly conscious but trapped in his new plastic body, the man is raped repeatedly. Collectively, it’s as if Buchan and his team of merry pranksters are attempting to emulate the deplorable urges of Lester Ballard in Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. If so, it’s a sterling effort.
There is an incredible amount of humour in these texts, and the weird-for-the-sake-of-weird mentality in each yarn is not just ballsy, but also highly entertaining. The feeling is that the writers are raising the stakes every time they commit to the page, competing to contribute the darkest scenario they can conjure. Andrew Waugh takes home the gold in this contest, but Buchan’s efforts are undeniably the strongest. With an eclectic mix of authorial and artistic styles, both works have their weaker moments but there will be something to shock almost anybody in either of these literary bodies. They don’t quite reach the transgressive levels of Sade, but it’s not far off. The late libertine would have got a kick out of reading these.
Blackout and Blackout II: YOLO are available now