Bizarro Lit

Imagine being on a Japanese game show, hosted by Dr. Heiter, whose theme song was written by Frank Zappa and sung by Bjork, and whose set was designed by M. C. Escher. Such is Bizarro Literature.

Just The Facts

  1. Bizarro Literature is the literary equivalent of the cult section at video rental stores.
  2. Although elements of Bizarro have appeared throughout the history of literature, the Bizarro genre is largely a 21st century phenomenon.
  3. There's some freaky shit in Bizarro.

What is this stuff?

Perhaps the best way to help you understand Bizarro Literature is to dislodge your brain and allow us to insert the information via electrical manipulation of your frontal cortex and then push your brain back up your nasal passage. But since that's the sort of thing that only happens in bizarro lit, let's use the following image.

Pictured: A totally scientific representation of the ingredients that make up Bizarro Lit.

Bizarro lit involves stories where the weird and surreal take center stage. The characters, the scenery, the plots take on bizarre characteristics that you don't find in most literature. Does that mean the authors just string together nonsensical words in whatever random order they like? No-this isn't a Laurie Anderson song or a high school geometry textbook we're talking about here. Unlike experimental literature, bizarro lit uses (mostly) normal sentence structure and verbiage. It's the story itself which is allowed to get freaky.

To give you a flavor of this genre, here are some sample plots from stories (which can be found in the catalog at Bizarro Central). As an added bonus/challenge, we've added two fake titles. See if you can figure out which two.

Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective - Charlie Hatbox, to pay off his gambling debts, has to switch bodies with a teddy bear named Jimmy Plush. As Jimmy, he works as a detective, dealing with furries, zombies, Martians, and giant mob bosses.

House of Houses - A man asks his house to marry him. But on the day before their marriage, all of the houses in the world collapse, leaving the man homeless and heartbroken.

The Lost Number - A mathematician discovers a previously unknown integer between 128 and 129. After writing an article about it, quantum mechanics takes over, shifting reality to accommodate this number. As a result, buildings crumble, cars stall, and planes fall out of the sky.

The Emerald Burrito of Oz - The gate to Oz exists and tourists are allowed to travel between Kansas and Oz (provided the portal doesn't kill them). Gene decides to visit, taking his laptop with him. In Oz, his laptop achieves sentience while Gene discovers a war is about to take place.

Muscle Memory - Billy Gillespie wakes up one morning in his wife's body. His body is dead. And he tries to find out why. Terry Bradshaw guest stars.

Circumcision Time Machine - Dr. Mohel modifies an Accu-circ circumcision tool to send the circumcisee into the past. He then assembles a team of uncut warriors, in a plan to send them back in time to harass and humiliate Hitler.

Bucket of Face - Several years after fruit have become sentient, Charles witnesses a shootout between an apple and a banana. After killing each other, Charles steals their money, hoping to use it to make his girlfriend kiwi happy. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in a mafia war.

So, how did you do? Click these links to find out:

Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3 | Link 4 | Link 5

Who Writes This Stuff?

There are almost fifty authors listed at Bizarro Central. We'll discuss several of the more prolific ones here.

Carlton Mellick III - Discussing Bizarro literature without mentioning Mellick is like discussing weird-ass muttonchopped authors without mentioning Mellick. His titles alone are almost worth the cost of his books. He's written five novels, over twenty novellas, and a mess-load of stories. Carlton One of our sources has attributed his voluminous output to the fact that he writes three pieces simultaneously: one with each hand and a third with his wang. His novellas include "The Haunted Vagina," in which a man has trouble dealing with the fact that his girlfriend's vagina is a gateway to another dimension, and "Apeshit," a kind of takeoff of Friday the 13th you would expect if it had been done by Troma.

D. Harlan Wilson - If the plot of the movie Primer and the closing theme to WKRP in Cincinnati were made flesh, fell in love, consummated that love, and then gave birth to a human being, that person would probably be D. Harlan Wilson. (But with more facial hair. Probably.) A Distinguished Professor of American Ethics, Humanities, Pathology & Social Strata at Stick Figure University, Wilson often uses the university as a setting for his stories. Most notably, in Dr. Identity, the android Dr. Identity (who covers for Dr. Blah in his English class) accidentally kills a student. To make sure no one finds out, he kills off the English department and takes Dr. Blah with him on the lam. Then things get weird.

Bradley Sands - In addition to writing, Bradley also edits the journal, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens, which contrary to what you're probably thinking, is not a cooking journal, but rather a "Journal of Absurd and Surreal Fiction." Although it might sound like Bradley is a little loopy, it should be noted that he lives in Boulder, Colorado, which has a minimum loopiness requirement for residency. And, though brilliant and vastly intelligent, it should also be noted that Bradley Sands is a dick.

Gina Ranalli - Ranalli lends a feminine touch to the world of Bizarro lit. (And not the kind of touch that Mellick does with his haunted vaginas and such.) This touch can be seen in tales like Wall of Kiss, in which the nature of love is explored when a woman falls in love with a wall, and Mother Puncher, where the US deals with over population by hiring boxers to punch expectant mothers.

Kevin Donihe - Donihe insists that he doesn't eat chimpanzees, and we here at Cracked believe him. As for his writing, his stories punch you in the stomach, penetrating your skin, pulling out your intestines and shoving them down your throat, turning your digestive system into a Klein bottle of bile. Which is probably the plot of one of his stories. But if it's not, here's one that is: The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports, which comes from the world of (what else?) bicycling.

Cameron Pierce - Before he goes gently into that weird night by spontaneously combusting, Pierce seems hellbent on writing his fill of Bizarro lit. His tales include many standard tropes, like pickles and pancakes falling in love, or ass-shaped goblins who abduct children for slave labor and eating, or flying Biblical sharks. It's a scene.