Jul 5, 2013


If you catch up on my earlier post here, you’ll gain a little background on the idiosyncrasy of Lonesome Wyatt (of L.W. & the Holy Spooks as well as Those Poor Bastards). If I had to describe him to someone curious but unaware, I'd perhaps compare him to Rob Zombie, only I'd clarify he's a little more subtle, soulful, and genuine. This comparison isn’t just based on the oogy-boogy style that pervades their music, but also on their legitimate appreciation of the genre we all hold so dear in our little black hearts.

After having devoured all of Lonesome Wyatt’s albums, I’m not surprised at all that he can write the hell out of one wicked little novel. The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switch Blade, a tale of a knife-wielding, cloven-hoofed, cannibalistic miscreant who tears through the night striking down “werewolves, ghosts, and other strange creatures,” works as a companion piece to the album Behold the Abyss by Those Poor Bastards; themes introduced in the book are explored lyrically in the album.

Terrible Tale is told in the first person by our titular anti-hero. He does, indeed, tear across the landscape with his only companion in the world—a horse named Red—keeping an eye out for threats of the supernatural. During his misadventures, diary entries from a Ulysses S. Levitcus, his adoptive father of sorts, provide some background on Edgar’s rearing, and proves to be perhaps the most interesting part of the novel.

The story moves at a rapid race and doesn’t get lost in masturbatory details. It’s a simple story and simply told, but not without flair. Wyatt pulls no punches with what he’s willing to have his creation do—like eat his departed foster mother, for example—and I suppose it’s this kind of content that forgives the brevity of the novel itself. It's short to be sure—150 pages—but the story is never not engaging or entertaining. Besides, sometimes such subject matter works better in smaller doses.

Wyatt’s style reminds me a lot of Donald Ray Pollock (The Devil All the Time), in that what he is willing to write about is unflinching and unquestionably horrific. Pollock at times dares you to read him, whereas Wyatt knows his fan base quite well and he’s confident he is delivering just what they have come to expect from him. To be blunt, Terrible Tale is fucked up, but in a fun, EC-Comics-turned-up-to-eleven kind of way.

The design of this little novel is killer; great paints were taken to make it look like a pulpy dime-store novel you would have found in a pharmacy in the 1950s…perhaps on the highest shelf away from children’s hands. The cover, while not graphic, is certainly questionable in its depiction of Edgar threatening a prostitute with his knife as she lays sprawled across a forest ground. The cover itself looks bent and tattered, enforcing its so-called age; the edges of the pages are even colored red. It’s a remarkable little creation.

I hope Terrible Tale’s association with its companion album Behold the Abyss doesn’t prevent the possibility of Wyatt writing more novels in the future—either featuring Edgar Switchblade, or a new morbid creation. If he can tie it into a past or future album, great, but here's hoping he can go hog wild with a new story, even if it's not related to his music.

The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade is available in multiple formats, and you can find them all on the Those Poor Bastards site.

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