Book Review: DEAD INSIDE by Chandler Morrison

dead inside cover
I used to work as a 9-1-1 operator and let me tell you: my coworkers, in particular, the ones who’d been there a long time had theĀ darkest senses of humor. If they didn’t laugh at the horrible shit they heard about on a daily basis, they’d go absolutely mad.

My mother used to be a lawyer who exclusively handled cases involving abused women. This type of work led her to stop watching violent movies and she no longer laughed at black humor.

Neither my former coworkers, nor my mother are wrong. My former coworkers are not insensitive, and my mother is not a “snowflake.” We all deal with life’s nightmarish qualities in our own ways.

We all have our own coping mechanisms for the apocalypse.

Some of us need experience trauma within the pages of a book or in a film or in a song. Such an act can take the power away from real world horrors. As a lifelong horror fan, I know all about that.

This brings me to DEAD INSIDE by Chandler Morrison. You know the book. It’s the one that caused quite a stir at Bizarro Con in early 2019 after its author performed one of its shocking scenes.

People have written and talked about that particular event at length. This post isn’t about that. This post is about the novel.

And let me tell you: For those of us who need to feel the fullness of the world’s horror and absurdity in the pages of a book, meet your new favorite read.

This is not an easy read. Often, I had to stop in order to catch my breath. It’s got a sense of humor as black as Texas crude. It’s got gross-out moments which would make even the most seasoned fans of extreme horror blush. There are sex scenes to make you feel at once aroused and disgusted.

More than anything, though, DEAD INSIDE has a tremendous amount of heart. These characters, abhorrent at first glance, are tragic figures. One has lived with his monstrousness all his life and doesn’t know how to face actual love. The other became a monster after facing intense childhood trauma and, despite occasionally wishing she could, she never looks back.

I don’t want to say much else. This is not the sort of book you want to spoil, so I’ll close with three comments:

First, context is king and even that infamous scene has a purpose in the novel’s narrative. So much hinges on that moment, the story couldn’t exist without it. It is the opposite of gratuitous.

Second, my God, does Chandler know how to end a story. Both DEAD INSIDE and UNTIL THE SUN left me screaming for more. He sets it up so you should see it coming, but he’s so clever, you won’t.

Last, I’m not an asshole. This book is not for everyone. We all deal with our apocalypse in different ways. If you’re like me, and you rely on dark fiction for catharsis, grab DEAD INSIDE now, and prepare to revel in the ways it will hurt you.

Friday, Mid-October, Mumps

It’s Friday morning on October 18th. This past Tuesday, my dentist told me the discomfort I feel on the right side of my mouth is a minor case of mumps. Despite getting an MMR vaccine as a child, I still managed to contract the virus. How weird is that? I wonder how it happened. I also wonder why my dentist didn’t find this alarming. She said I just had to take ibuprofen for the pain and get lots of rest until the virus ran its course.

Also, I have to watch my little one for symptoms. That’s a little more alarming. But she said mumps aren’t fatal so long as the symptoms are treated.

I also learned that my state has the highest rate of mumps diagnoses in the U.S. The more you know!

Anyway, in better news, I’m pleased to announce my cyberpunk cosmic horror crossover Gods of the Dark Web will get the audio book treatment by the ultra-talented Sean Duregger. You can expect this release sometime next year. I heard his audition for the book and got excited immediately. I’m glad my publisher at Crossroad Press felt the same way. There’s something powerful about hearing a gifted performer read your stuff. I hope all my writer friends get to experience it one day.

A couple crazy things happened related to Saint Sadist over the last few weeks. First, someone on Goodreads shelved it as Young Adult Fiction. Whatever you say. Wish it was making that YA money. The other thing that happened was less amusing. Someone on Reddit posted the opening chapter and went on to accuse me of child pornography. Others called me a misogynist, which is unfortunate.

While that latter development was just the work of some jerks on the internet, this sort of thing can really impact sales. I’m not a big Hollywood conglomerate. Your think-piece can do real damage to my livelihood. In fact it has. Sales have been in the toilet since, so thanks for that.

Of course, I have a day job, so you know, whatever. I will say one more thing though: pornography is written specifically with titillation in mind. I certainly wasn’t titillated while writing the scene in question. If you found it titillating, that may say more about you than it does me. Just a thought.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting year as far as “problematic” art goes. I’ve lots of thoughts, though I think my buddy Scout Tafoya summed it up nicely when he said (to paraphrase), if you can’t pan a work without turning into Tipper Gore, maybe you have no business being a critic.

I think there’s something to that. I also have complicated feelings on the matter. Like, do I really need to defend Quentin Tarantino from a think-piece he probably didn’t even read? Pretty sure he was a millionaire before some armchair activist took him to task for his portrayal of Bruce Lee. Pretty sure he’s still a millionaire now, some months after the fact. It’s when such outrage targets the working-class folk that I get irritated.

Saint Sadist did, however, get a wonderful review from Lisa over at Bibliophiliatemplum, which I genuinely appreciate. She’s been a hell of a supporter these last fourteen months. I’m glad to have her in my corner.

The last bit of information I’d like to relay is I’ve begun the process of revamping my Patreon page. For just a buck a month, you can expect new serial novels and stories exclusive to the platform, film and book analyses, and writing advice essays. Less fanciness, more focus. I’ll still post chapters of Blood and Brimstone here until it’s finished, but any other fiction I post to that page will not be published anywhere else for at least another year.

I know asking for money is taboo, even when you need it–indeed, I had a friend take shots at me on Twitter over this–but there it is. I will continue to post here, though you should expect these entries to be more informal and personal. For fiction and criticism, I’ve got to charge a little. The goal is to do two posts daily, one here and one there, but I’m sure it will more realistically become a weekly affair. We’ll see.

Anyway, sorry if some of this came out as a rant. I’ve been holding a lot in lately.

Hope the rest of you out there are okay. Keep on keeping on.