Okay, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My taste is eclectic as hell. If you listened to one of my mix tapes (Yes, I’m old. My kids have playlists; I have mix tapes.) you’d find Creedence next to Metallica next to Sinatra next to Jennifer Terran next to The Pogues next to Clannad. I like just about every genre, and I appreciate the best of any genre. Books are the same for me. That’s why I loved this collection of stories by Jimmy Pudge. If you’re easily offended—actually, even if you’re moderately easy to offend—you don’t want this book. Since I’m only offended by poor writing, Jimmy had nothing to worry about.
I remember when I was a kid (I’m talking about in my early twenties. Refer back to the earlier parenthetical remark.) and I first read the complete collection of Damon Runyon. The guy created a style of speaking so unique that critics dubbed all further works like his “Runyonese.” If critics can ever get past the fact that every fourth or fifth word shows up as s*** on chat and &@##! in comics, it’s possible there might be literary critics in fifty years referring to Pudgese. In a recent interview with him, Jimmy said he named the book as he did to make sure nobody bought it without knowing what was coming.
Okay, you get it, right? This book isn’t for the weak. It has more sex, drugs, blood, and supernatural horror than…than…I just realized there’s no comparison, maybe porn stars getting shot at a screening of Saw? Here’s the really amazing thing, though. These stories are good. The first in the book, “Everything She Touch Turn to Doo Doo” has oral sex, vampires, crack cocaine, and nosy neighbors. How the hell does somebody turn that into a workable story? Pudge does. The story is strangely compelling, and at the end of it, I shook my head and wondered how he pulled it off.
In “Bob’s Country Store”, Pudge demonstrates that the language can be evocative even if it’s not smooth. Here’s a sentence for you: “He looked like how I imagined a talking dick would look.” Go ahead and try to think it’s just adolescent vulgarity, but a picture formed in your mind. That’s really the key to Jimmy’s stories. They unapologetically get right in your face with no pretense and no pretentiousness.
I love William Faulkner and Shakespeare and Hemmingway, but you’re going to find Jimmy Pudge right there on my mix tape as well. It’s cheap on Kindle, so add it to your mix, too.