Prunty, Andersen. The Overwhelming Urge. Portland: Eraserhead Press, 2008. 140 pp. $10.95. ISBN 1933929650.
Andersen Prunty is one of the writers at the forefront of the second wave of Bizarro. The Overwhelming Urge is his first book from Eraserhead Press and is a collection of much of Prunty's short fiction. The book compiles sixty-six stories of various lengths, the longest being a few pages, the shortest shorter than this review. The topic matter varies greatly, but a cursory glance at the table of contents will give you an idea of the topics Prunty addresses. "The Wise Man," "Drugs," "Vagina" and "Vampire" are just a few of the twisted tales.
Prunty is already developing a reputation as a talented horror writer, but this collection shows a different side to his genre writing. While elements of horror do frequently appear in the stories, the general tone of the book is of humor and philosophy rather than scares. Prunty writes with a thoughtful smirk but does not forget entertain, titillate, and thrill.
It has already been suggested that the bizarro genre works best in the short form and The Overwhelming Urge is a convincing argument. This balance of the weird, dark, and funny is difficult to sustain for long works but succeeds wonderfully in this more limited medium. Each story quickly jumps into the reader's head, scrambles things around a bit, and then leaves before the reader has a chance to rationalize it.
With books coming out later this year and the next from Eraserhead Press and Cargo Cult Press, Andersen Prunty is set to make a big splash. The Overwhelming Urge is a perfect introduction to those curious about this exciting new talent. What the stories lack in word-count they more than make up for in pure literary impact.