Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Wet and Screaming is the first short story collection published by Shane McKenzie. Mckenzie is a journeyman horror author writing within the “splatterpunk” and “bizarro” subgenres. Two of his better-known novels are Pus Junkies and All You Can Eat.
Much of the author’s writing focuses on food and obesity. However, with Wet and Screaming, he flexes his writing chops to tackle a variety of horror tropes. The collection includes eleven short stories by McKenzie and two written by the Soska Sisters. All of the author’s stories are introduced with brief essays relating to the inspiration for the tales. The collection includes:
“Introduction” by Jen and Sylvia Soska
My Obsession with Obesity (intro)
Are You Moving It? (intro)
You Don’t Need Eyes to See Us
Because I wanted to (intro)
He’s just a Baby
I’m a Terrible Person (intro)
I’m on my-
Addicted to Addiction (intro)
Peanut Butter Pizza (intro)
That’s a Keeper
Ain’t what it used to be (intro)
Give me Something Good to Eat
Baby Hitler (intro)
So Much Pain, So Much Death
A Kid for Life (intro)
Don’t You Want to Play with Us?
My First Crush: Jessica Rabbit (intro)
Stab the Rabbit
“I Want to Die” by Sylvia Soska
“First Date Stuff” by Jen Soska
Dark humor is prevalent throughout the collection and McKenzie has a sense of social justice which is on display in many of the tales. However, the absurdist nature of “bizarro” fiction will turn off many readers not accustomed to it. It is far removed from the reality-based horror of Jack Ketchum or the elegant imaginations of Poppy Z. Brite.
This stated, “Stab the Rabbit” is a very interesting look at violence, both in horror and children’s television shows. It involves two young boys pulling a television character into the real world and the consequences of the cartoon hero’s actions. To put it bluntly, people do not see stars when they are hit in the head with a mallet.
Another notable story is “Ed Gein’s Garage Sale.” It is the tale of an emasculated husband on the road trip from hell. Stuck in the car with his obnoxious family, he stumbles upon Ed Gein’s garage sale. Ed has just the ticket to help a fellow out. There is only one question. “What are the panties for?”
In several instances, the essays introducing the stories hurt the narrative, as they diminish the shock of the subject matter. However, all offer insight into the author’s writing process and inspiration. To struggling writers and fans of McKenzie these are a must read, but to others they may be viewed as unnecessary filler.
Overall, Wet and Screaming is a fun collection. Shane McKenzie will make you laugh and cringe in equal measure. He has something to say about the world we live in and is not shy about it. If you like “splatterpunk” or “bizarro” literature, give it a read.