One of the weirdest books you'll ever read is by my pal, Steve Aylett, and it's titled Lint. (You can order it through the Amazon link below.)
Lint is the "biography" of Jeff Lint, poverty-stricken, mad genius, hack writer, who is basically a cross between Kilgore Trout and Salvador Dali.
One of Lint's fictional creations was a comic-book character dubbed "The Caterer." And now you can read an actual issue of this gonzo masterpiece, thanks to Floating World Comics. A sample is to the right.
You must investigate this saga of one man and his senseless quest for perfect absurdity in a violent world, or risk being rendered null and void!
In those antique pre-internet days of the book's debut, your only resources for contacting and receiving strange information was the USPS. There are plenty of cheap copies of HWBM available online, if you want to get a nostalgic snapshot of that era.
But the SubGeniuses behind the book have also launched THE HIGH WEIRDNESS PROJECT, which strives to replicate the book as a web-based experience.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Strange Things, by Boris Servais, is a book you won't find for sale on Amazon. Servais had it "Produced in Italy by a specialized printer for small-size books, it collects odd discoveries and inventions around nostalgic aviation, astronautics, time trips or science fiction warfare." Below is an example of one of the entries. (via Book By Its Cover)
I can heartily recommend this book to any reader interested in oddball comics or strange corners of pop culture in general. The authors are acknowledged comics experts, and they've dug up some very bizarre comics, here shown as cover images only, no interior pages from the offenders. Your life will never be the same, after you've been introduced to, say, All-Negro Comics or Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swatstika.
Welcome to the very first contest sponsored by your pals here at WEIRD UNIVERSE.
Here's the deal:
The single prize is a used but in-good-shape trade paperback copy of Ricky Jay's Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, an essential handbook for any true lover of the weird.
The challenge: to win the book, you must identify the painting and artist behind this little visual snippet to the right. The painter is one of the more famous outsider artists of the past 200 years. With luck, this challenge will be neither too easy nor too hard. If the contest goes on for any length of time without a winner, I'll post more snippets of the canvas, and other clues.
Please make your guess in the COMMENTS section of this post, not through email. Priority of the response, in the case of multiple correct guesses, determines the winner.
When we have a winner, I'll get their snailmail and post the book with some of my mailart on the envelope.
I'll be away in Seattle from Friday October 10 through Monday October 13, attending the launch party of my new novel, Cosmocopia. But I've stacked up four posts in the queue, all new FOLLIES OF THE MAD MEN. Enjoy!
Collecting novels of the fantastic as I do, I eventually and inevitably came across those of Dion Fortune, and bought a few. To this day, they remain untracked by my eyes. Nonetheless, I was sensitized to her name, and could spot her non-fiction selection Psychic Self-Defence readily on the shelf of a used-book store and snatch it up. A bargain at $5.00, I'm sure!
I haven't read it yet, but I'm much looking forward to learning how to protect myself against various types of intrusive mind assaults. Sample a few pages yourselves below.
And thanks to Google Books, you can read the whole thing online here.
I started thinking about contortionists again when I happened upon a feature on them in an old issue of Life. In my novel Spondulix I had a character who was an "enter-ologist," a great term I found in Ricky Jay's wonderful history of sideshows and freaks, Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. Enter-ologists get into impossible places, rather than escape from impossible places.
In any case, a short search of the web turned up lots of online contortionist info, including the Contortion Home Page, which is where I found this pic of April Tatro. That's her in the video below as well.
Here's another strange book I purchased but have not yet read. The real author is Joseph K. Heydon, using the pen-name of Hal Trevarthen. Time has swallowed up all details related to Heydon and his book, leaving us only with the text itself.
Here's the description from the amazingly ugly dustjacket.
Here's the title page, followed by a sample of the actual bafflegab inside.