Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: Damnation by Alabama Sharp

    Over the course of 35+ years, Alabama Sharp has led such legendary and infamous underground Alabama bands as The Knockabouts, Monster Dog, Monster God, and the Go-Go Killers, all the while quietly writing some of the sickest fiction ever imagined. Seriously, the reason why we’re just now reading this stuff is because no one was brave enough to publish any of it. In the true spirit of D.I.Y. (of which he was an early purveyor), Mr. Sharp finally said, “Fuck it!” and decided to publish the work himself. This means that Sharp doesn’t answer to anyone, which in turn means we get even sicker stuff than we would have gotten had somebody else published him.
    The first half of the book is a collection of Sharp’s art. Simple crude pen and ink drawings of hyper-violent and over-sexed demonic debauchery. Readers of our print zine have likely bared witness to some of his work, which is downright quaint when compared to some of the demented smut found in these pages. Like Clive Barker guiding the hand of Helen Keller to mock Picasso. Or a five-year-old trying to explain why the house is empty and there’s blood everywhere. Reminds me of the little kid’s art in Jay Anson's Amityville Horror book, but instead of a sprinting pig, we get a two-headed three-breasted naked lady with a dead baby draped between her necks. *And the prosecutor points to the child’s drawing, “Is this where the devil touched you?”* Doodles of the damned. Viciously visceral. A gnarly introduction and a helluva visualization of what might come.
    The text portion of the book ranges from brutal abstract poetry to deranged short stories. Alabama Sharp is a man who's brain is packed with a lot of (fucked-up) ideas, but I’d wager that this being something of a compilation picked from different periods in the writer’s life has added an even deeper layer of stylistic variety. Luckily, Pissed-Off-Kid Sharp is just as talented a writer as Punk-Rock-Elder-Statesman Sharp. The entire book is well-written. Which makes it even more hard-hitting. Any warnings of offensive content should be taken very seriously, but make no mistake, this is finely-crafted. Interesting stories that really pull the reader in. But these are intense stories. We’re talking extreme violence, rape, murder, rituals, and gore. Ramshackle prose gives way to slice-of-life torture porn to the tale of a family trip gone waaaay wrong to the musings of broken-brained stalkers and serial killers to what amounts to a throbbing Penthouse Forum gone bad. Much of it from the monsters' (human, inhuman, and non-human) perspectives. All masterfully imagined and the very definition of explicit. EXPLICIT. Gorehounds rejoice, but this book is not for everyone. It will haunt you and disgust you and it will get under your skin. This book is grotesque and challenging. Damnation was clearly published to push buttons, let’s hope one of those buttons isn’t your doorbell. -Harmless

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