Reed Alexander's Literary Review of 'The Parasite from Proto-Space' by Brett Petersen
Shoot smack in your COCK!
I knew I was going to like this when it started out with some random douchebag mumbling nonsense, whacked out on a cocktail of drugs. Specifically ketamine, fentanyl, and crack. For sure, that would likely kill the most hard core drug addict, but it sounds like a wild ride down a short rabbit hole.
In any case, my over all impression of this anthology was pretty solid. It's morbid, bizarre, and a ton of fun. Some of it was a little too jumbled. I wasn't a particularly big fan of the second story Summoning the Memory Eaters, as it was kinda droning. But over all, this collection of stories was an entertaining ride and was fairly well written, even if a bit experimental. Part of what makes a good story is the imagery and immersion and this exited both of those things. While some of the jumble could be a bit staggering and buck me from my readers trance, over all, it kept my attention. As I'm often to point out, for a reader like me with severe ADHD, that's all that matter. Getting me to sit in place and read a full book is extremely difficult and anyone who accomplishes that feat can ware that as a badge of pride.
All in all, there are three solid stories that make this collection worth the cover price. The rest are good extras that you may or may not enjoy.
I'd like you to consider buying a copy at the following link: The Parasite from Proto-Space.
The Parasite from Proto-Space: The first story, which holds the same name as the book, was deliciously twisted. It kind of reminded me of Naked Lunch... not the novel, the movie. I never read the book. I'M A MOVIE CRITIC, PEOPLE!!! The movie was like a plot jumble. The main character struggles with understanding their own existence among internal turmoils such as drug abuse, homosexuality, their own madness, and their place in society as an outsider. Each turmoil is represented by a different piece of the plot that so loosely connect to the rest.
The Parasite, is a similar character, just struggling with different inner turmoils. He comes off like an alien invader that was dropped off on the planet by his mom, doomed to get a shitty grade in 'invasion class' for half-assing it. He's a slacker, he doesn't particularly want to be invading, isn't really trying, and doesn't really know how. He's just going through the motions. This is clearly a parable about being an outsider and just trying to fit into this world. I feel like it's an anthem for most of my generation, whom, now pushing their 40's, are still trying to figure shit out.
What I really get tickled by is the fact that the parasite seems to be trying to 'Jones Town' as many humans as he can. I can honestly imagine some hipster trying to start a suicide cult rather than take responsibility for their depressingly meaningless life.
Summoning the Memory Eaters: Was honestly a bit of a disappointment after the opener. It was just a bit too jumbled. I found myself struggling to read it. It presented like a collection of journal entries about interdenominational brain parasites. Yeah, the idea is neat, and yeah it kept me reading, but the presentation was a little too loose.
It's well written, there's nothing particularly wrong with it, it might just come down to taste. I would recommend each reader judge this individually.
Billy-Sally: Imagine the writer of Grimms Farritails was born today, did far too much salvia, and wrote about the ensuing fever dream.
My only major complaint is that I felt like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. "SAY BILLY-SALLY AGAIN MOTHER FUCKER! SAY BILLY-SALLY ONE MORE TIME!!!" While I can appreciate not gendering the goat with a silly pronoun, it did irritate a little to read Billy-Sally so many times in the opening paragraph. However, hang on, because the fever dream is well worth the slight taboo.
I can imagine poor Billy-Sally's mind recoiling in horror, his jaw hanging agape, as he wakes in a sci-fi bestiary of cosmic proportions. If you've seen the episode of Rick and Morty where Jerry tries to leave Jerry Daycare, you will fully appreciate this story.
The Labyrinth and the Jingling Keys: Lost keys? Blame Hoffman. If you're deranged like me, you'll get the reference.
I struggle with stories in first person, in perfect present tense. I like narration but narration designed like someone is talking to me directly always throws me off. The best way to read this is to assume you're a psych doctor, pen in mouth, notepad in hand, prepared to diagnose the narrator.
So read the next part in a German accent... Ze Narrator is coming along quite nicely adapting to ze experiment and haz nearly broken the peripheral of the desired parameters, entering ze unconsciousness of unsuspecting subjects. Quite a compelling case study. Ze conditioning iz nearly complete!
The Funeral Machine: HOLY HELL this anthology took a dark fucking turn. This story is soul crushing. The worst part is, it's all too real.
Yeah, maybe we don't have some random death machine, intentionally creating enfeebled people, chewing them up, and spitting out corpse. But we've seen this in the abstracts in real life; IE governments deciding to cleans the undesirable. Undesirables, more often than not, created by the pollutants of those governments' corporate masters. This just packages the evils of humans into a simple machine. Yeah, it's senseless, and seemingly pointless, but then so was the Nazi regime. At the end of the day, this is something we deal with in the real world, though more abstract.
Ca-Caw: Enter the irrational mind of the individual with phobia driven delusions and PTSD. Like the tone of the last one, this is a dark and anxiety filled place, without mercy. Yeah, this story has a slight tone of mirth, but it's every bit as soul crushing.
The thing is, while there's a hit of something otherworldly going on, this could easily be non-fiction. Nothing particularly supernatural happens. While you can hang on to the idea that maybe there was some sinister conspiracy contrived by crows, it's too easily explainable as the lunacy of Jimmy.
CAVO: I got a chuckle out of the idea that government bureaucrats couldn't agree on the official meaning of the acronym. Far to often, writers imagine these headless beasts with no aim or purpose and it sort of misses the mark. Bad government is a far more petty creature.
I think what's brilliant about this short, is the fact the cosmos holds so many catastrophic disasters waiting to happen. If we did manage to concoct a defense against them, it would be like a toddler trying to jam the pin back in a grenade. We might understand the problem, we may even have a practical solution for it, but with all our science and marvels, we're mostly fumbling to make it work. Does the CAVO expedition team stop the dooms day device and save earth? You'll have to read it.
There were a couple interesting literary devices that serve to make neat little puzzles for the reader. I'm not sure if the desired effect was achieved. It didn't buck me from my reader's trance, but a lot of readers might find the word scrambles and jumbles a bit frustrating. It's experimental for sure, but we all know how general audiences feel about experimentation.
I like the representation of autistic people in this story as well. Not only did it not depict them as functionally useless, but it also depicted them as functionally unique in important ways.
A Free Ride to Pleroma: This kind felt like the writing as a Saturday morning cartoon. It's not bad, per say, but it doesn't really fit the rest of the stories. It's a bit too jovial, like a children's story. While it has a few very serious themes in it, it just wasn't an enjoyable read for me.
Frog Baby: This story quickly gets things back on track with the morbid and bizarre. It has a bit too much of an 'all life is precious' theme to it, but then, that theme keeps popping up. A wastoid trying his hardest. A nobody against all odds. A lunatic that just wanted to save his mother. An autistic man destine to save the world. Maybe Frog Baby is just a bit to much?
Then, as if out of nowhere, this story turns into a meta story. You join Lily and Abe, frog detectives, mid case, searching for a lots pterodactyl egg. It was so sudden and bizarre and goes right back to being a little too jovial for my taste.
I sort of lose the plot of Frog Baby trying to reconcile it with this micro story. It flops back and forth between one of the characters of Frog Baby reading this children's story and the actual story of Frog Baby itself. I was not at all fond of the presentation and I don't think it was necessary to help build the suspense of what was otherwise a pretty descent story. If you want, you can just skip over the meta story without missing much save the connecting themes.
In closing: While the book doesn't finish as strongly as it starts, it is well worth the cover price. My general standard for purchase always come down to "Are there stories in this anthology that make me want to re-ready it enough to buy a copy," and I can say 'yes' for three particular stories alone. Again, if you're interested in purchasing a copy, simply click the following link: The Parasite from Proto-Space
If you'd like to learn more about the author and his other works, you can find him here: Miscellaneous Floating Curiosities
Consider purchasing one of his many other titles on Amazon.
Brett Petersen is a writer, musician and artist from Albany, New York, whose high-functioning autism only enhances his creativity. He earned his B.A. in English from the College of Saint Rose in 2011, and since then, his stories and poems have appeared in over a dozen print and online publications. "The Parasite From Proto-Space & Other Stories" is his first book, and unless he is apprehended by the Trump Regime for being an outspoken autistic, will certainly not be his last. Academic critics should note that the subject matter of his stories and his taste in literature in general was heavily inspired by Japanese role-playing video games such as Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, and Shin Megami Tensei. Aside from his writing career, he is the rhythm guitarist and vocalist for sludge rock band Raziel's Tree, a competent visual artist, Tarot reader, and would-be Kabbalist." ~Amazon
“Brett Petersen can be just as meandering [as some other stream-of-consciousness poets] but his drifting is more from the Surrealist tradition of automatic writing & as such has more a semblance of art; his first piece was in that vein & titled “Comintell,” while his second poem had one of those long, un-transcribable titles that could be [a] poem in itself, & ended up as as the last line, “Gallons of Cyanide Poured On the Head Of …”
“Brett Petersen, wiping cake from his beard, read a couple poems from his Blog, like exercises in automatic writing, or a punk version of John Ashbery, “The Bottom of the Pool is Hungry for your Brain Damage” & “Have a Drink, Literally, On Me.” ~ commentary on some of Brett’s open mic performances by Dan Wilcox