King Scratch by Jordan Krall
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
If you want bizarro, Jordan Krall delivers with King Scratch. It’s certainly one of the weirder books I’ve read by him up to this point, the others being Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys, Fistful of Feet, and Squid Pulp Blues.
King Scratch is a weird acid trip of a book involving a couple off to help the man’s (Jim) ex-father-in-law (a moonshiner who Jim worked for) while being pursued by another man named Black Boned Keith for unknown reasons. After both are in different car accidents, things get really weird, involving sea creatures (mostly squid), Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, and pancakes. This theme continues into the appendices of the book, which are really more a collection of short stories that are loosely related to the main story.
As I mentioned, this is one of Krall’s weirder books that I’ve read, sometimes to the point that it gets a little confusing. It’s also one of Krall’s more graphic books in terms of sex and violence, so reader be warned. If books like Fistful of Feet were too tame for you, then you’ll probably want to give this one a try.
It’s hard to write a review for this one without giving much away because, despite the short length, the book feels dense with plot elements and psychedelic visions. While the common elements that run through much of Krall’s books are present (i.e., squids and common characters, like Black Boned Keith; interesting that donkeys don’t have much of a presence in this one), the style feels like a departure compared to the Krall’s other works I’ve experienced. It’s good but, in my opinion, also felt a little less than Krall’s other books.
King Scratch by Jordan Krall earns 3.5 jars of squid moonshine out of 5.