“THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD” (Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Michele "Izzy" Galgana
It’s 1940s in Litchfield, Alabama during World War II, and life is difficult in this somewhat-depressed town, but not impossible. THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD by Ed Kurtz features several characters, but George “Jojo” Walker is the foremost protagonist in this horror noir.
There’s a prologue about strange things going on within a circus that some may forget about entirely — until the circus returns later in the story. The book feels almost like its segmented in its genres in the same way TV has an episodic feel; it starts off pulpy and descends into noir, then horror, and then absolute gonzo splatter madness before culminating in an existentialist ending. Think AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW by way of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. In short, reading THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD may produce an effect akin to going to an actual circus — there’s the scary, the silly, the warped funhouse delusions, and it’s all experienced through the sudden shifts and forces of a roller coaster ride.
Having seen several noir films and read lots of historical fiction, I was looking forward to this tome. It’s always a treat when a book is able to form a magic picture show inside your brain, allowing you to visualize a movie from the words you read. This is what RIB is able to accomplish and then some; you’ll probably be able to smell the smoke, hear the matches rip across the striker, and hear the gasoline splash over the little town in the Deep South.
So, let’s get to the plot. Jojo is a former cop with a tragic past who now works as a night manager at Litchfield’s only hotel. Weird things begin happening when a picture roadshow comes into town with one of those “scare pictures” that were big back in those times. The creepy leader and femme fatale of the actress/nurse both put people a little on edge, but not as much as when a man is torn apart by invisible forces in one of the hotel rooms.
Since this took place in his place of employment — and because of Jojo’s former career — he decides to investigate in classic tough guy noir mode. Some residents are invited by the roadshow to a secret midnight double feature, the town church ladies decide to start picketing…and then things get really, really weird.
I’m not going to say much else except for this is one of the most magnified cases of “things are not what they seem” I’ve ever come across. I’d also love for an evangelical Christian to get ahold of Kurtz’ book, just to hear the no-doubt bombastic reaction.
I’m still processing this wildly strange tale, but the fact that I am means that it really stuck with me. The characters are well written, and like I previously mentioned, the imagery is fantastic. Those elements alone make this tale worth reading, but there are several more onion layers of shriveled, blackened humanity that deserve peeling back.
If you like pulpy noir with a dose of existentialism mixed with some utterly bizarre horror, this book is for you. Published by ChiZine, THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD is available on Amazon now.