Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New This Month: The Show That Smells by Derek McCormack

If your tastes run to beach reads or other light going that makes you smile in the sun, give The Show That Smells (ECW Press) a wide berth. Toronto artist, author and fashion journalist Derek McCormack here pushes the envelope on what is fiction, what is story and what is satisfying read. And while such envelope pushing can often be tiresome and even yawn-inducing, in this novella-length tale, McCormack delivers a staccato epic with punch and verve. The Show That Smells is a story that, even if you try to forget it, it’s tough to make go away.

Cowering, cringing, crying -- Chaney acts like an actress.
“You’re afraid of perfume?” Carrie lords the bottle over him. She drips a drop onto him. It burns like battery acid. Blended with bleach. Skin smokes. Seared skin. Seared seersucker. Stinks. Chaney No.5.
“Hillbillies, high fashion, and horror!” trumpets ECW, which sums it up tightly, yet in some ways doesn’t even come close. It doesn’t, for example, convey the beat rhythms and the aberrant -- yet present -- story lines. McCormack’s previous book, The Haunted Hillbilly, was named a best book of the year by both The Village Voice and The Globe and Mail. Those wanting to see if The Show That Smells will repeat that performance will have to wait a while: the book is available now in Canada, but U.S. readers will have to wait until next summer when it is published in America by Akashic Books.



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