Flesh Rehearsal - by Brian Bowyer
I’ve watched an interview with Brian where he explained his writing process for Flesh Rehearsal – that he was as surprised at the turn the story took as the characters – that he was typing away at the story when the subplot of The Lobotomizer – just spouted out of the mouths of one of the characters – took him totally by surprise and he rolled with it.
That’s the beauty and the core of this book. It is stream of conscious writing – I have no doubt that the book had a form, a plan. I am also in no doubt that the plan went out the window the moment the characters decided to think for themselves! What we have in our hands is a book that could do anything – go anywhere – and often does. Add to that the hallucinations one of the main character experiences, which always end with a humorous “I have to remember to start taking my meds” – and Flesh rehearsal is Brian Bowyer being Brian – minimalistic writing to convey horrific incidents. Extreme horror made palatable through humor. Broken characters that stick together. Glimpses of humanity remind us of the good in people, even in the midst of debauchery.
The book is Drug laden and alcohol-fueled – but one of the things that I really noticed in it, is that every time alcohol or drugs come into play – everyone shares. It is an unspoken certainty that those people in situations where they are struggling to make ends meet, nevertheless share their vices. I loved that – I can imagine that Brian’s experiences with drugs and alcohol were similar – in that there is never a scene where people hold onto their own drugs. Everyone has humanity in that what little they have, they share. I also have to clarify that I have no idea if Brian has any such experiences, I just know he likes his whiskey.
Likewise, those people removed from the drugs and alcohol in the book, show compassion and understanding to those that are still in that phase of their lives. It’s a notable commentary here from Brian. He levels no condemnation for the characters partaking. It is something they do, to help make their lives more entertaining, or to drown past trauma.
I won’t attempt to summarize Flesh Rehearsal – I think you just have to read it and go with the flow, it’s one of those rollercoaster rides that is going to go wherever it does and you just hold on for the ride, happy to be a part of Brian’s imagination again. I can’t say I related to any of the characters. They are all alcoholic, drug depraved killers, rapists, torturers, or gun dealers. Good people die in the turn of a paragraph. Other people commit suicide. The brutality is readable, through Bowyer's prose and straightforward minimalism.
I don’t think there’s anything like it out there at the moment.
It’s brilliant, Brian. I have no doubt I would hate to be a character in one of your books, but whilst the rollercoaster is still operational, it’s impossible to look away.
5 out of 5⭐ ‘s, and the feeling of dizziness will probably last for days.
P.S. I guessed the identity about halfway through the book. Do I get a badge?
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