If you’ve noticed a recent trend in my reviews, I’ve been reading a lot of what gets classified as “bizarro fiction.” I remember when I first heard about it, about a year ago, and I pictured stories that would be weird, off-the-wall, and probably containing concepts or imagery that would be purely for shock value. What I had read so far was okay in these regards, but I was more surprised at the way these authors had chosen not to push these boundaries as hard as I expected.
Then I read Ass Goblins of Auschwitz by Cameron Pierce, a book whose title alone would immediately push the envelope. This is the kind of book that I pictured bizarro fiction would be like when I first heard about it. It’s shocking to the point that, if you’re not disturbed or even feel the need to vomit, at least early on in the book, then you probably need psychological help.
The story itself is pretty simple. It’s told from the perspective of a boy named 999, a conjoined twin with his brother Otto from Kidland, who are prisoners in the land of Auschwitz, ruled by the cruel ass goblins. The only prisoners are children. Some are sacrificed on a daily basis.
The first half of the book deals with describing life in Auschwitz, while the second half is where the full plot really comes in as 999 and his brother become the subjects of an experiment by a particular ass goblin known as the White Angel.
In terms of describing daily life, I’m not sure if the author was attempting some kind of satire or underlying meaning to everything, whether it’s the cruelty of adults to children, the jealousy of childhood innocence, or the injustice of a prostate exam. Most of this gets buried under imagery so disturbing that you don’t really care about any underlying meaning.
Are there flaws in the book? Well, honestly, I can’t really point to any in particular. While the imagery is disturbing and even over-the-top, I’m pretty sure that was the author’s goal, so mission accomplished. I guess there are a few logistical problems in terms of consistent character description or actions, but these tend to get diluted in an otherwise consistent novel. So the novel is definitely very proficient technically
At the same time, while I try to be fairly objective, personal opinion and feelings are going to come into reviews like this, and keeping that in mind, I failed to really like the novel. Based on my previous experience with bizarro fiction, the title, and the somewhat silly cover, I expected something that would be a little more satirical and probably a bit offensive but ultimately funny in its offense. I was not prepared for the mental assault experienced, particularly at the beginning. Come to think of it, that’s very much what the opening feels like. It’s like you’re being assaulted mentally by the disconcerting, and it feels a bit like the author is doing it for the same reason that the ass goblins torture the children: Because he can.
At the same time, it’s difficult to fault the novel or the author. He had a goal in mind, and if I read it correctly he achieved his goal, even if I’m not entirely sure what that goal was, but at the end I just felt drained and empty over the usual curiosity or wanting more.
Ass Goblins of Auschwitz is ultimately an okay novel, but the assault to the senses can be a bit much, even for bizarro fiction based on my previous experiences. At the same time, it did leave me somewhat morbidly curious about Cameron Pierce’s other works, as the novel is quite good on a technical level. But I would only recommend this novel for those who want something more “extreme” in the genre and have a fairly strong stomach. Which I do, but I think I simply wasn’t prepared for what I got, like expecting hot buffalo wings that turn out to be atomic.
Ass Goblins of Auschwitz earns 2.5 out of 5 stars.