Today I Am This Boring Apocalypse Posing For Hustler: Notes on new books by xTx, Brandi Wells, and Andrea Kneeland by Brian Alan Ellis

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August 29, 2015 by RJ


Today I am a book reviewer.


Today I am picturing the mysterious author of this book to look like a tattooed vegan straightedge hardcore chick because of the two x’s she uses in her penname.


Today, if the literary scene were a slammin’ mosh pit, xTx would be commanding that shit using windmills and crazy roundhouse kicks.


Today I Am a Book is a collection of darkly comic vignettes (flash fictions/prose poems) highlighting wives, farmers, short order cooks, genies, hunchbacks, basketball coaches, babysitters, failures, lions, time machines, and shitty tattoos, written by the phantom queen of darkly comic vignettes (flash fictions/prose poems) highlighting…


Today I Am a Book is like the music video for Van Halen’s “Right Now,” except it makes sense, and it’s funny for the right reasons, and it isn’t as preachy.


Today there is a whore:


I wasn’t a whore two weeks ago. Only since this meteor business. Only in the past 5 days.


Today there is a meat cutter:


There is so much meat in the world, and every day I am so sad to be cutting it.


Today there is a bulimic:


The last thing I ate was my back fat. I paid a young neighbor, a young man, to come over my house and slice it off of me. He’d done similar before. He brought the belt again. He brought the knife. He helped me into the tub. He was quick.


Today there is a burglar:


The best thing I ever burgled was your mom.


Today there is a missing ten year old:


New kids keep coming and coming. Nothing is clean anymore. It is never quiet. I can’t get warm. I am always hungry. Even when I’m sleeping. I can’t stop rocking now. My hands around my knees. Back and forth, back and forth. And even though it scares me I can’t stop. It’s the only thing that feels good.



Today I am an xTx fan.


Today I totally recommend this book.


Today you should listen to me.


Today I might be onto something.




Without arms she cannot drag herself to work. Without arms she cannot drag herself anywhere. We will stay here together in the house we’ve grown accustomed to with its floral couch and claw foot tub. We have made a home for ourselves and she will respect that.


“Like if Donald Barthelme had been hired to transcribe Jeffrey Dahmer’s wet dreams for Lars Von Trier,” which is how Blake Butler described this book of miniature, beautifully-wrought nightmares and “screamscapes” (sorry, couldn’t resist), where the love theme is dissected and spread out on a picnic table; its many subversions—madness, possession, jealousy, betrayal—mutilated and/or physically transformed (yeah, that works).


This Boring Apocalypse is like The Notebook meets Re-Animator.


But only almost.


Only not at all.


Really, it’s a sadistically imaginative child playing house then burning down the house.


It’s very funny.


And scary.


I make a fort that looks like tortured people. I have always been good with tortured people. It is my talent…. When I go into the house of strangers and torture them, I expect a thank you, and a mint, and a sweater, because it has been cold lately and torture is tiring work and I do not like to be cold. I do not deserve to feel uncomfortable, because I have a skill and this skill should earn me something. It should matter.


How about: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Grime?


How about: If This Boring Apocalypse were a Depeche Mode song, it would be “Master and Servant”?


We search for lemons and I grow tired of her desires, but this is the way with most relationships, so we continue our search.


Both cruelly adventurous and psychologically in deep shit, This Boring Apocalypse is unlike most books you’re likely to experience, and Brandi Wells is some kind of disgusting, clever genius.


Mad respect.




Andrea Kneeland’s How to Pose for Hustler begins with the best opening paragraph I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading:


I realize with certainty that my husband is an asshole about three years into the marriage, while I am delirious with a flu-born fever, freezing beneath cold yellow sweated through bed sheets, bones shaking like cage mice. Instead of going to the store to get me Nyquil, he forces my legs into the harness of a strap-on, sits on top of me and fucks himself while I try not to die.


“The Difference Between,” a story about an aging woman who flees an abusive marriage to live with college-age kids and who drinks wine and gets stoned and then loses her job before gradually losing her remaining inhibitions, is a real beauty, and it sets the tone for this punch-packed collection of mini juggernauts, many of which deal with women coming to grips with loneliness, depression, and sexual abuse.


I need a certain amount of misogyny in my life if I am to be happy.


Kneeland takes us on an uncompromising funhouse ride of damaged women attractions: mistresses; self-destructive party girls; females who begrudgingly text naked pictures of themselves to their porno-obsessed boyfriends; teenaged goths who fool around in churches; suicidal lesbians coping inside treatment facilities; strippers; bulimics; tragedy fetishists who hoard bad relationships as though they were family photo albums.


Susan, for example, is the only one who can see her own talent at all, which is to make herself fit unobstructively into any one person’s life. To fold herself up neatly like a piece of paper, to let herself be torn, crumpled, origamied into any shape necessary. She is the only one who knows that she’s being folded.


There is nothing overtly feminist about Kneeland’s writing, nor does it invoke man-hating sentiments; it is too open, too deep, to be pigeon-holed as such.


Kneeland writes with cold, honest clarity.


She brings her characters’ hopes, faults, and fears to the surface.


She lets them bleed.


How to Pose for Hustler is a stunner.


No doubt one of the boldest and best books you’ll read this year, or any.






These books are now available through Civil Coping Mechanisms.




Brian Alan Ellis is the author of King Shit and Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty. His writing has appeared in Juked, Crossed Out, Zygote in My Coffee, Monkeybicycle, DOGZPLOT, Conte, Sundog Lit, Connotation Press, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HTMLGIANT, That Lit Site, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Heavy Contortionists, flashquake, Out of the Gutter, Spittoon, Spry, NAP, Electric Literature, The Next Best Book Blog, Entropy, Revolution John, The Round Up Writer’s Zine, Gravel, and Atticus Review, among other places. He does windmills and crazy roundhouse kicks in Tallahassee, Florida.

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