book review: bible camp bloodbath

I want to be Joey Comeau. I will just say that. His writing is probably the stuff in the world that gets to my emotional core the best. There’s a Murakami story about a really good letter writer who makes you feel like you’re eating the hamburger steak she’s writing about, or so the narrator says. If I could do the stuff Comeau does, I would be a hell of a writer. His weird funny tales just dig into you and take your fucking heart and break it. In Bible Camp Bloodbath that’s almost not a metaphor. The ad copy for the book is “Child Murder: Anything this fun should be illegal.”

The book’s about a weird quiet kid named Martin. His mom works in horror movies and he goes to Bible Camp. At this Bible Camp nearly everyone is murdered in fantastically escalating gory ways. This is not a spoiler. The book is saved from being a self-conscious “Dude, we’re in a horror movie” wank-fest (note that there is some wanking in the book) by the refusal to really engage in the cliches of the “reflexive about horror tropes” sub-genre. Instead of winking and nodding at the reader the book revels in gory description that is painful, terrifying, ludicrous and oh so fucking graphic.

The terror of the victims plays into it, sure, but that’s not where the book’s heart is, at least, not for me. It’s almost a novel about the joy of being a weirdo, which is a common Joey Comeau theme, and one I’m happy to embrace. The victory condition achieved in the end of Bible Camp Bloodbath is beautiful. It’s not sentimental. It doesn’t fuck around with the novel’s rules. It just makes you cry. Made me cry. Although I did read it on the plane going to a funeral, so I may have been in a weird emotional state.

Anyway. If you want, you can read the whole thing for free here (at the bottom of each chapter just click Newer Post to read it in order from there). I bought it because it’s cheap and Joey Comeau deserves encouragement to keep on making these weird heartwrenching things. (Also, it has an index of murders which is a hilarious summary of the book.)

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