BLACK LIGHT by Jo Perry - a review
BLACK LIGHT is a short story from Jo Perry, acclaimed author of the "Dead Is..." series featuring the much loved characters Charlie & Rose.
This story was written in direct response to the strange times we find ourselves living through - part primal scream, part beat poem. Jo Perry comes at you full force in this rhythmical and lyrical tour de force.
This is the work of an artist at the top of her game, spitting words like truth bullets and demanding your attention - think Patti Smith meets Allen Ginsberg in lockdown Los Angeles and you'll get the idea.
2 on Brady Emotional Pain Faces Faces Scale. No weight loss or gain, no fever, no cough, no rash. 100 push-ups. 100 crunches. Vivid dreams. Malaise.
I entered my self-check stats on the ketpad, clicked "report", then waited for "Report Received" to appear in glowing mustard yellow letters bannered across the sky-blue municipal surveillance monitor/information screen, waited for the happy face icon and the banner unfurling below it as unfurls every day -- "We Are One Day Closer To Victory!" accompanied by Bing Crosby singing the firsts stanzas of "White Christmas" - - "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know / Where the treetops glisten and children listen / To hear sleigh bells in the snow..." right before the screen bleeds out to black.
Black Light is the third in the brilliant Fahrenzine series from Fahrenheit Press - a series of slim, limited edition volumes from favourite Fahrenheit authors printed in the style of old skool punk fanzines. In Courier font, with no cover image or page numbers, these volumes are stylish beyond belief. And the content - absolutely stunning.
This particular story follows an anonymous protagonist through his daily struggle with his sanity during some sort of unspecified, lockdown. An everyman story, if you will, if every man had a screaming toilet and exhibited the same confusion and anger management as a three year-old White Supremacist who wakes up every morning to find he is the President of the United States.
Each chapter begins with a breakdown - and breakdown really is the key word in this story - of the protagonist's vital stats, including how he measures on the 'Brady Emotional Pain Faces Scale', and any recurring physical symptoms. What follows is then a stream of consciousness diary-form slice of insanity as the narrator rails against anything and everything, including the reader, in trying to make sense of his current situation.
The publisher describes the writing as 'Patti Smith meets Allan Ginsberg in lockdown Los Angeles'. Throw in a bit of George Orwell , Hunter S. Thompson and Franz Kafka, and you're getting close.
If Charles Bukowski wrote an episode of Black Mirror - this would be it.
An example is one of the huge amount of stand-out passages:
'We enter the world alone and screaming - well, not enter, but if we don't scream immediately, we die. Screaming is the first breathing. Screaming is life.'
And the stunning thing sbout this volume is the range it shows from author Jo Perry. If you ever read Perry's Charlie and Rose novels - one of them reviewed by me here - you will find they are among the most beautiful, ethereal, life affirming books you will ever read. For Perry then to write this story with its violent indignant rage and post-apocalyptic imagery shows a writer at the very forefront of the indie writing game.
Only a hundred of each Fahrenzine are ever printed. I believe there are not many left. Do yourself a massive favour, and buy this while you can. When they're gone, they are gone forever. And then buy every other thing Jo Perry has ever written. You will not regret it.
Black Light is available to purchase direct from the Fahrenheit Press shop here