Some people are so easy to shop for. Just pick them up a nice sweater, the latest bestseller or a gift card and Bob’s your uncle. Then there are the weirdos. You know who I’m talking about. Here are a few gift ideas for the artsy, creepy, readers in your life.
In Laid Bare, true crime author John Gilmore turns his focus to the destructive effects of fame and society’s obsession with celebrities. In a who’s who of a memoir, the author discusses his personal encounters and relationships with the dangerous, destructive and doomed characters of the Hollywood landscape. His former acquaintances include Janis Joplin, Jack Nicholson, Charles Manson, Sal Mineo, Jayne Mansfield, Dennis Hopper, Jean Seberg and Lenny Bruce. He pays particular attention to James Dean’s obsession with speed and death.
Do you know anyone who would like to munch on Karen Carpenter’s Chewy Pie or Liberace’s Sticky Buns? The Dead Celebrity Cookbook by radio personality Frank DeCaro is the perfect gift for the morbid chefs on your holiday list. DeCaro has collected recipes by 150 movie and television stars, including Bette Davis, John Ritter, Andy Warhol, Sebastian Cabot and Totie Fields. You know I’m all over Klaus Nomi’s Key Lime Tart. Go for the kitsch and host a dinner party where guests must come dressed as their favorite dead celebrity.
David Wong, who wrote John Dies at the End, has come out with his third novel, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. Our narrator is Zoey, a trailer park heroine with a smelly cat who gets tasked with trying to save the universe this time around. The plot revolves around Zoey’s unwanted inheritance of her ne’er-do-well father’s vast fortune, and all of the baggage that comes with it, including an evil arch-enemy. The book’s villains are spawned from a nightmarish future where technology fulfills its evil potential. And it’s up to Zoey to stop them.
The Girl with all the Gifts. What? Another dystopian future? If there’s one thing weirdos love, it’s dystopian futures. The first narrator of this story is a special little girl named Melanie. The plot gradually reveals itself to the reader as Melanie struggles to figure it out. She is taking classes in some kind of lockdown facility. Everyone uses extreme caution around her to the point of being really weird. Follow Melanie and her beloved teacher, Miss Justineau, as they face the kinds of things people face in dystopian futures. It is hard to put down, even though it becomes increasingly Twilight Zone-ish near the end.
Disco’s Out Murder’s In will catch the interest of both punkers and true crime aficionados. Everyone who was into punk in the 80s was aware of established gangs like FFF, and the looser, less organized activities of the followers of Circle One and Suicidal Tendencies. This book includes first-hand accounts of people in and around the punk rock gang culture. Its primary focus is on “La Mirada Punks, or LMP. Says LMP chieftain Frank the Shank after getting arrested by police for murder: “After having my hands in so much bloodshed over the years, I most certainly had it coming. I deserved whatever I got.”
The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses is Dr. Paul Koudounaris’ latest magnum opus. “Death scholar Paul K. traveled the globe for four years researching and documenting “bone houses”, shrines and reliquaries. During which he managed to…shed light on near forgotten artistic and spiritual practices, and take gorgeously striking photographs of the macabre…” – Lori Nyx
The heroine and narrator of Wittgenstein’s Mistress believes she is the last person on earth, and it is slowly driving her mad. She regales her readers with stories of her life and travels. But soon she begins to contradict herself, and eventually there is no difference between fantasy and reality. Is she really the last person on earth? Is she even mad? Author David Markson leaves the reader combing the text for clues.
The Gilded Bat. Although we are still partial to the Ashleycrumb Tinies, this new edition is sure to please any fan of Edward Gorey. In this story, Gorey illustrates “the transformation of Maudie Splaytoe, a girl prone to staring at dead birds, into Mirella Splatova, a chic and mysterious prima ballerina…followed by an unexpected and dreadful demise.”
Geek Love The weirdest of the weird. The Binewskis are a carny family who intentionally strive to have babies who are “freaks.” There is the megalomaniac Arturo, born with flippers, and the sister who adores him, the hunchback albino Oly. Add in a pair of Siamese twins and a toddler with psychic powers, and you have the makings for an entrancing novel. The first time I read it I loved it from start to finish. The second time I had a problem with the ending. This book will make you question your own moral judgment.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle Shirley Jackson is best known for her book, The Haunting of Hill House, and the short story many of us had to read in High School, The Lottery. With all the suspense of The Haunting and all of the creepiness of The Lottery, Jackson crafts this short story of two isolated sisters who have lived their lives under the umbrella of suspicion for murder. One of the sisters only responds to attempts at conversation with an encyclopedic recitation of various poisonous plants and their effects. A short but spooky read.