February 15, 2014

Bumping Noses and Cherry Pie by Charie D. La Marr

I get really excited about new sub-genres and  La Marr’s short story collection offers entrance into a world that many of us might be hesitant to explore, yet we can’t resist a peek. 

Warning: not for the prude or the easily offended; pass your circus ticket on to the sister or brother who was always sneaking out the bedroom window or threatening to run away from home.

I’m going to let La Marr tell you what you’re getting into:

“Circuspunk is a new sub-genre of punk/bizarro literature scene created by Charie D. La Marr aka Persiphone Hellecat aka Kotton Kandy—a former professional clown. The genre includes stories that take place in circuses, carnivals, midways, sideshows and also includes stories of birthday party clowns, freaks, magicians, circus animals and costumed characters. With some elements taken from her experiences in the world of clowns (she won't tell which are true and which aren’t) the genre is a blend of truth and fantasy that takes in the usual bizarro mixture of fun, sex, satire and splatter. Also included in the genre are dark stories, Lovecraftian stories, noir stories and other variations and combinations of contemporary literary genre.”

La Marr begins her collection with a through overview of Circuspunk as well as alerting readers that it is fiction inspired by truth—which just makes it all the more wonderfully eccentric.

Many of the twenty-five stories in the collection celebrate—or rather—lampoon the underdog. The most memorable underdog for me is Santiago Espinoza. (He reminds me of a couple of bellboys I knew when I worked the front desk at a Portland, Oregon hotel.)  In “El Ratón” young Santiago tries to pleasure himself but only ends up pleasuring others and has trouble walking afterwards.  La Marr’s characters and the situations they find themselves are at times uncomfortably strange because there is some truth in them, which effectively adds to the strangeness.

Several of La Marr’s female characters would please any militant feminist. In “The Dunk Tank,” sexy sisters, Shelby and Savannah, take over the underperforming dunk tank and make three thousand dollars a night by hurling insults at customers who lose their cool and throw wild balls at the target. The customers just happen to be husband and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends; the sisters are badass with no reservations.

La Marr is a talented writer and a natural story teller. Each character has a distinctive voice and her settings are rich with just the right details. At 302 pages, La Marr’s story collection has room to explore the facets of what happens behind the scenes and in the hearts, minds (and loins!) of circus folk. Even if at times the stories were more vulgar than my usual tastes, I appreciated how easily the stories carried me along and kept me involved—my jaw dropped many times, but it’s good to have my buttons pushed from time to time.

Entering the world of Bumping Noses and Cherry Pie reminded me of trading stories with coworkers when I was in my teens and twenties. If you feel nostalgic for your raunchy, youthful escapades that someone could probably blackmail you for, then pick up this collection and join in the conversation! 

One more note—La Marr pulls off her new sub-genre with sass. She takes risks and has the skill to back up her bravado. 

Charie D. La Marr spent nine years as a clown and is distantly related to Mary Shelley on her father’s side.  Find out more about Charie and her other work on her facebook author page.

Her book is now available on Amazon, Kindle $2.99/Paperback $12.99:  

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