Issue #8 of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens centers on no particular theme except the general theme of the absurd and surreal. The back cover says, “Some stories feature mindless violence or irreal nonsense. Others display sharp cultural satire or brain-tingling wordplay . . . issue #8 offers a zany feast for the ravenous imagination.” This is no exaggeration.
Mike Young’s short-short entitled “Share This Too” starts things off with this opening line: “In the middle of the city park I found a nun crying because her ice cream cone was full of broken teeth.” The narrator’s obvious, logical solution, “Why don’t you just flick them out?” is, of course, too simple to escape the biblically-proportioned plague of broken teeth to follow.
A couple pieces in the issue don’t give the reader much beyond the initial premise. However, I was really impressed with Ofelia Hunt’s story “Car Accident,” narrated by a person who seems to be responsible for the car accident in question and whatever other horror is connected to it. Using the movement of vague language, Hunt wrings the narrator’s trauma, disorientation, and disconnection as the authorities ask questions, and indirectly expresses the inexpressible. For example:
“What’s your name?”
“I need your name for hospital records and insurance. How old are you? Where were you born?”
“I think I’m me I think I’m something.” I move my head and my head hurts in a sharp and exact way, but distant somehow, as though my head’s a thing and I’m a thing and these things are different things with different nervous systems. I see another gurney and another human and the other human’s very red and black and crusted and hairless and maybe does not have enough skin, so I think about skin and how much skin’s enough skin and I think about my skin and how much skin I have and where this skin is and what if I were to lose this skin.
I also enjoyed other stories by Blake Butler, Cameron Pierce, Darby Larson, Sam Pink, Matthew Simmons, and more. Closing out this slim but potent issue are book reviews of Duncan Barlow's Super Cell Anemia and Jeremy C. Shipp's Sheep and Wolves. I think the range of style and content in this issue of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens provides something to suit as well as stretch the sensibilities of most readers, even some who prefer traditional realism. Issue #8 and other back issues of Bust are still available (some are online as free pdf downloads, see below)and I've read that the next issue will be online. It will definitely be worth checking out.
UPDATE: The next issue of Bust will be print; online after that.
Bradley Sands interviews Sam Pink
Jason Moore interviews Blake Butler