There is so much going on in Chris Wisnia’s compilation of The Lump, his hardboiled, macabre murder mystery told through tabloid-colored glasses, that I’m not exactly sure what to focus on. In fact, I don’t think I read it correctly, or, at least, it is perhaps put together in a way that pulled me in two different directions, making it difficult to give my full attention to either one. Which is kind of a shame, because both paths Wisnia takes the reader down are an awful lot of fun.
The Lump storyline, while totally disgusting, is portrayed in such a nostalgic, campy style that it’s impossible to take seriously, and the reader is permitted to just have fun with it.
In a sort of Dashiell-Hammett meets a 60’s sci-fi B movie as told by the Weekly World News, Rob Oder, editor-in-chief of the yellow rag Tabloia, introduces the (“shocking, most anticipated tale in the history of publishing!”) story of a body that is pushed out of a moving car and is struck by at least 7 other cars. The corpse is pulverized, but not before the local medical examiner makes a shocking discovery – the head and the body do not match. Additionally, a third hand is found.
In the melee of flying body parts, the medical examiner, the local police force, and a cynical detective try to figure out whose hand and whose head belongs to who, and who is responsible. Also, two twenty-something tattoo aficionados opine on the fashion statement a head transplant would make and the political ramifications of such a choice.
The fictitious Oder, whose unnatural love of exclamation points is illegal in 13 states, also includes for your reading pleasure his own relentless bragging commentary, unrelated articles on hygiene from Dr. “Cleanie” Santini, bitter reader mail, and assorted sex facts about the animal kingdom submitted by a series of adolescent boys.
Also fun, in a completely different way, is Wisnia’s insertions of his laments of the thankless, loveless life of the self-publishing comic artist. While the story of the self-loathing, broke and sad comic book guy was told to heartless perfection by Daniel Clowes this year in Pussey!, Wisnia is currently the real deal, and his laments of being a talented guy running up against the brick wall that is breaking into the arts industry will have many, many heads nodding along in empathy.
Interspersing the two didn’t work for me very well, because I wanted to devote my brain to either one tale of humorous woe or the other, so the next time I read it, I’ll stick to either the paneled pages or the printed word.
Nevertheless, I feel compelled to urge everyone to run! Run very fast! Run and buy The Lump! It’s the most horrifying! Shocking! Story! Ever! Told!
Plus, Wisnia’s mortgage payment is due next week.
First reviewed at the Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society.
Buy the Book!
By Chris Wisnia
Salt Peter Press
158 pp. softcover
Monday, September 25, 2006