Book Review: Motherfucking Sharks – Brian Allen Carr

Great whites and makos and tigers and bonnets and lemons and nurses and threshers and blacknose and blacktips and spinners and bull sharks and duskys and finetooths and smalltails and silkies and dogfish and hammerheads, sharpnose, and browns. All circling, circling, circling their death-patterned courses, pushing the mass of horror-stricken humans deeper into their clump of false-security safety-in-numbers, huddling together with their backs to the murderous fish that had somehow stripped away order from the universe and learned to navigate against the laws of the physical world.

Have you ever seen a thing the first time and known its name?

These were the motherfucking sharks.

This book is…

Insane?

Crazy?

Motherfucking nuts?

… really quite unusual.

Oh. I probably should’ve put a language warning on this somewhere…

Motherfucking Sharks: 4 out of 5 stars

Earlier this week I was reading another blogger’s book review (CouchToMoon’s review of Kiln People*) and noted the following comment:

But ultimately, 600 pages is too long to entertain such an absurd premise.

Motherfucking Sharks has an absurd premise. Possibly the absurdest premise you can imagine. But bugger me it works. I suspect this is because the book is super punchy, super short, even for a novelette. It’s 116 pages of ugly, inbred, desert communities being slaughtered by magical sharks. Magical Motherfucking sharks.

Synopsis

This book has Motherfucking Sharks in it.

You want more? Fine.

A tattooed stranger walks into a wilderness town with a mule and cart, carrying harpoons, carrying shark jaws and carrying a warning. A warning of a coming storm and a coming terror. He tells his tale as juggles skulls, the skulls of his family. His family who were eaten by the Motherfucking Sharks, despite being on land and nowhere near the ocean. The rains came, and with the rains came the puddles, and with the puddles came the Motherfucking Sharks.

Understandably the townsfolk treat this story with a degree of skepticism, but it’s not long before it starts to rain…

Review

Scroll back to the top of this page and look at that cover. Go now. Look at it! Look at the blood spatter. Look at the cactus and the hazy mountains, and look at those crazy flying Motherfucking Sharks.

Savage. Bizarre. Bizarrely savage.

The cover does not disappoint and it does not lie. This story is weird, frightening, and funny all at once.

Brian Allen Carr can clearly write – his characters are written briefly but beautifully ugly, those that you meet are all broken and bent, twisted and tortured. His horror is graphic and gory but still surprising and entertaining. Great stuff.

I could bullet point the plot in about eight lines, so there is not a lot of complexity in the story itself. However Carr spends his very few pages on showing us the people, displaying them like exhibitions at a freakshow, building a reader’s sympathies and/or antipathy. In the end, whether you like the characters or not doesn’t really matter, because the rain falls and the Motherfucking Sharks come.

The book is quite experimental – I’ve seen one negative review that likens it to ‘a bloated creative writing exercise’, and to some extent I can see where this comes from. A simple five sentence ‘man walks into a bar’ joke is spread across  five pages, one sentence a page. There is a segment where it’s raining, and there are super short chapters headed ‘Rain According to Character One’, then ‘Rain According to Character Two’ etc, before a single page headed “Rain According to You’ – which is blank apart from some ruled lines for the reader to add their thoughts. In another section the author breaches the forth wall in an aggressive and disturbing manner as he asks you (the reader) to help him (the author) kill someone with sharks.

 

From a critical point of view, I felt that it was a bit too short – I bought the the book and (perhaps unrealistically) I’d have hoped that for the regular price of a book it would have lasted a little longer. There is also little in the way of character development – the story is simple, elegantly written but a little shallow (like a puddle…?).

Regardless, I chewed through this book with a vengeance and and savored every bite. I will also keep an eye out for more of Carr’s work.


 

Read Harder Challenge

This was another BookRiot Read Harder Challenge book (check my list here) – this one was to read a book from an indie publisher. This indie publisher is Lazy Fascist Press (website here) and I will have to check out more of their stuff. It all looks amazingly interesting.

Motherfucking Sharks was my 40th book for the year, meaning I’m hoping to bust past my GoodReads Challenge of 70 books and get closer to 80 (shouldn’t be too hard if I keep reading books under 150 pages!).

Cheers

KT

*I decided against the Jump the Shark joke CouchToMoon 🙂

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