I guess if the only real complaint you have about a book is that it’s too short, it’s probably a book worth owning, right? And, yeah, I definitely think this book is too damned short! Let’s just get the bitching done and over with right at the beginning. A few more stories would have been a nice addition. Blahblahblah. Okay…moving on…
John Skipp is a legend amongst fans of strange horror (splatterpunk, bizarro, etc.), and for good reason. The man knows how to write a story that can make you think while you’re puking your guts out in disgust. The two great tastes that taste great together. The Art of Horrible People is a recent collection of stories (though I’m not certain how recent the actual stories are, they all appear to have been published elsewhere). And it’s a varied bunch. All weird and dark, though not necessarily all horror. There are some undeniable horror tales in here like “Art Is the Devil” and “Depresso the Clown,” the latter of which being my favorite of the entire collection (talk about dark and uncomfortably, exhaustingly violent…yikes!), and then there are also pieces that defy characterization, such as the anti-Hollywood diatribe “Skipp’s Hollywood Alphabet Soup of Horror.” All of it is interesting, so who cares what genre certain stories might fall into?
Also included at the end of this book is a long list of artists Skipp is inspired by (which includes writers, bands, illustrators, directors etc.). I have to say this endeared me even more to him, not just because many on his list would also be on my list, but also because it’s just such a nerdy thing to do that I pretty much have to love it. He’s eager to share the things he loves without being overbearing about it. I appreciate that.
However, the biggest shock of this short (Yes! Short! I’m complaining again!) collection is that Skipp made me come close to shedding some tears toward the end of the book. In “Scoob’s Last Will and Testament,” he writes a eulogy to his beloved dog that passed last year, and it just got me real bad. I mean, I’m a sucker when it comes to dogs, so it’s a given something like this is going to affect me in the worst way, but kudos to Skipp for allowing himself to be so vulnerable in a book that might have otherwise only let readers in to one aspect of his personality. I just wanted to give him a big hug after reading that piece.
John Skipp will not appeal to those looking for a commercial sort of fiction, but if you’re seeking something off the beaten path that will still give you some sense of fulfillment after reading it, The Art of Horrible People is a solid purchase.