The Big Book Of Blasphemy: Edited By Regina Garza Mitchell & David G. Barnett
Reviewed By Michelle Enelen
The Big Book of Blasphemy was my most anticipated read and the one I wanted to review first in 2020. Twisted, jaded, and blasphemous fun; no, I’m not declaring myself. Well okay I am but we’re talking about the book here. Stories intent on offending a closed mind. If you think it might not be for you then you should certainly pay attention to Brian Keene’s description/warning. I love this book; I wish I’d written it!
Edited by Regina Garza Mitchell who I must say is one of the nicest people I’ve met and she’s smart. Book smart (she’s a professor that writes horror!) and people smart. She curated thirty reads for this book including one of her own that I gleefully devoured. There are a few lighter stories here including one focused on the cult of pizza, strange fun. Several have surprise endings and most of them hold up the title.
Two of the stories hurt because they mirror the idiocy I’ve seen in religious folks regarding the way they treat their children. Because of the empathy they aroused, Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth by Ray Garton and Jesus or Jacob by Ali Seay are stories that demand to be read. If you read the bible as a curious youth, I mean really read it there is no denying it is a genuinely disturbing book. A lot of death; infanticide, filicide, mass murder, and the popular death by fire. Is it any wonder a child force-fed these holy stories would suffer nightmares? And if your entire life has been steeped in the rock-steady rules what actions do you take when your kid defies them, just how far do you take it?
Eddie Generous makes you wonder WWJD in his mysterious ways striated with revenge. Your body does not always obey your mind no matter the self-restraint you impose on it. The poor boys in David (E. Generous) and Selling Salvation (Ryan Harville) are betrayed by their anatomy; one suppressed by personal faith the other two seduced by things too good to be true.
Jacqueline Mitchell’s Born Again begins with the new family in town theme, adds in a seductive youth pastor who really wants to love the little children. To my despair they want to love him back. Horns will be raised.
The often-irreverent Joshua Chaplinksy has a story for those of you that love ‘em to death. His piece Playing Doctor had me remembering 1997’s Kissed ,1987’s Nekromantik, and a certain Gift (1993) from Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction. It’s a messy friendship.
Gabino Iglesias cages your mind with the what-ifs of the afterlife and a question of morality. I’m sure you’ve heard of honor among thieves, maybe you’ve even heard that chomos are a unique evil, the bottom feeders in prison. Add in a Palero with bad timing on this side of life who stirs the legends and you get Black Wings.
Jeremy Wagner brings you to your knees with Norwegian Woods a story writhing with Black Metal history. This story introduces you to a real-life crime from Oslo 1994, but continues its own twisted path to seeking salvation. Can you be saved if you’ve done everything in your power to defy the laws of Christianity and the ethical codes of human decency? Hmm, G.G. Allin can answer that, or perhaps Lord Rectum. If you were only mocking the rules for fun and attention its possible that a priest can save your poseur soul… isn’t it? Before you paint that last six and make real close friends with a goat’s head you better read this one.
And you Shall be Adored by Regina Garza Mitchell presents a cuckold Joseph and Mary filled with longing for a beautiful naked angel. The details in this telling are described so well your mind is going to go there. Warrior hair, an angel’s mouth, the red handprint he left on her stomach, the mark that made Joseph a believer. A child will be born, that last paragraph is haunting in its terrible beauty.
Strewn between these cerebral treats are the exuberantly heretic stories from Brian Keene and Edward Lee. The Guy from Nazareth shows you how much love hurts. Keene will make you look at stigmata in a whole (hole?!) different way. His story is brutally funny. Edward Lee will have you retching like a drying junkie. What messed me up most about this one was its resemblance to a horribly profane news story out of Tennessee in 2007. A spiked-heel used appropriately gave me some gratification though the turnaround ending had me wanting to prolong the “mans” comeuppance. Yeah, I’m big on revenge. It is as satisfying as homemade soup after a long frigid day. The Big Book of Blasphemy serves it hot!
If you venture into this book and somehow overlook the warning every story will remind you. This is not a take it with a grain of salt recommendation. The verdict is blatantly final. If you’re religiously inclined, I promise you will be offended. If you’re not then with my fullest blessing, enjoy the Hell out of it!
The Big Book Of Blasphemy
If you’re religious, look no further – this is not the book for you. The Big Book of Blasphemy is just what the name says: BIG. With 30 stories from today’s best extreme horror writers, no one and nothing is sacred. These stories take on everything from goddesses to paleros to priests to saints and sinners, angels, demons, devils, and even pizza. From wretched pasts to dystopian futures, these tales explore a range of topics, religions, and blasphemies. The stories in this book range from serious to humorous, loud to quiet; there’s a sacrilege for everyone.
Raised by Pentecostal preachers, horror was not a readily available commodity. As her love grew, her parents were occasionally summoned to school to talk about book reports and various projects that weren’t quite appropriate for her age. They were lost as to where she’d gotten such “trash”. Luckily for her, there was a librarian that understood her insatiable hunger for darker worlds. Even now, if she could, she’d live among the stacks.
Her penchant grew to include ghastly movies and music, which she’ll happily share with anyone listening. The love of horror continues with her favorite videogame, “House of the Dead, Overkill”. She’s not the best gamer, except when defending herself against the wrong monsters. Head shots are her speciality.