I don´t quite know what to do with J. Bradley. He seems to be a poet, the artist kind of guy, who has watched one too many Quentin Tarantino films ; not thinking much about taking his meds, living on pizza and beer while enjoying poker games on TV. *
It Smells Like Plastic And Hurt Feelings is on the other side one of the best lines I can think of, and as a title almost a little too perfect. It is a strange, and bizarre collection of stories.
The first of those short stories I like the most. A guy paying every month for an abortion, being a ´moral support´ even he himself is a ´life-saver´. Just for being close to a young woman he is in love with who works in such a clinic. The morals going havoc have a comical, headshaking undercurrent. It´s one of those ´are you sure you know why you´re laughing now?´ tales.
A vampire, ancient Rome re-living on Mars tale, no less, doing the gladiator thing left me scratching my head (ok, not literally, but you get the picture I hope) . Its also the longest story. Sure Bradley punches hard but it never really makes ´click´. The images seems always a bit going AWOL but plausibility is not what he is aiming for, that´s for sure. It´s a WTFery in words which seems more like doing the ´experimental´ stunt just for the sake of trying. What´s the moral point of it, if there is one, I do not know. Mix totally unrelated parts into a story and serve it shaken and stirred with ice cubes.
Bradley´s writing is strange, but in a familiar way strange. It sounds at least familiar but he turns it into an uncomfortable experience at times (his stories and the impact they have, not his use of language).
His protagonists are always on the edge. Ready to kill to survive, not because it is pleasant. It´s gory but the gore is like a pat on the back. See mate, that´s what´s going to happen. It ain´t personal, you know?
I appreciate Bradley´s writing though, stylewise anyway, but he isn´t someone for instalove. More like someone you have to get used to over time. Not a bad thing, having a friend instead of a lover.
J. Bradley´s publisher, KUBOA Press, however, proves once more to be one of the most innovative, experimental-friendly, daring & challenging publishers of short stories (mostly) of the bizarre, surreal kind in these days and age.
I downloaded a free copy of It Smells Like Plastic And Hurt Feelings via Smashwords.
* This remark is by no means directed at the author himself, nor it is my intention to bring harm to J. Bradley, or anyone associated with him. Just a innocent comment how I, as a reader, imagine a writer of such tales to be.