To celebrate Killercon Austin's inaugural Splatterpunk Awards, Women Write About Comics online journal reviewed all the finalists works in each category, included my story collection The Garden of Delight (Comet Press, 2017), nominated for 'Best Collection' category. Here's the review:
Summarising the plots of the stories in this collection seems pointless. The title story is about a couple looking for the ghost of their dead child in a post-apocalyptic world. “The Man Who Ate Flowers” is a cannibal killer’s life story. “By the Sea” is about a murderer trawling the streets of Rome in search of transgender sex workers. And “Regnum Congo” is a sexed-up reworking of Lovecraft’s “The Picture in the House.” But none of these descriptions really captures how Alessandro Manzetti’s fiction works.
The Garden of Delight’s stories are written dreams, where narrative logic inevitably gives way to surreal transformation, as when the reader is confronted with such scene-setting descriptions as this: “Ghosts of tits, dicks, electric necklaces, and portable pussies walk on Molle Bridge, illuminating the motionless marble archangels of the old Rome with severed wings.”
Behind this hallucinatory prose, Manzetti mixes splatter with punk in equal measure. He explores the cracks in society: a twilight world of depraved criminals, victims of oppression, and a philosophy where sex, violence, and religion are irretrievably tangled. He also blurs together elements of various speculative genres to create his dark dreamscapes, allowing the surreal symbolism of magical realism, the city-dwelling beasts of urban fantasy and the alluring technology of cyberpunk to each play their part.
One of the best examples of this genre-mixing is “The Massacre of the Mermaids.” This story takes place in a dystopian Rome where a “She-Pope” reigns supreme with transgender amazons providing muscle. Unfortunate women are surgically transformed into mermaids, which are used as prey in gladiatorial combat, and gathered spectators munch on meatballs made from the women’s detached legs. Some of the motifs in this story are familiar from horror (such as cannibalism), while others are more idiosyncratic (such as the casting of transgender women as weird futuristic priestesses, an idea that turns up repeatedly in the book.) Fragments of various post-apocalyptic sci-fi epics fade in and out of each other like memories of a dream, with a dream-logic treatment of gender politics running through the middle.
The book’s tone is consistent across its twenty stories. Even tales that initially seem to be more grounded later slide into the same dreamlike prose: witness how “Long Hair’s Inferno,” which starts out as an apparently straightforward retelling of Custer’s last stand, comes up with lines like “the camp is on fire and jaguars, big and small, are frying blue men in pans.” The Garden of Delight sometimes seems less like a collection of short stories and more like one blurred-together narrative. The setting may change from the Crusades to the dystopian future of the She-Pope, but the surrounding world—along with the narrative voice—remains essentially the same.
The Garden of Delight is a heady volume, and some readers may find it a little overwhelming. But taken at the right pace, Manzetti’s prose is a fine example of the beauty that can be found in the grotesque.
My dark poetry collection WAR, written with Marge Simon, has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Awards 2018
Preordina la tua copia a prezzo speciale del nuovo romanzo NUOVA SODOMA - La Resurrezione del Re Osceno, in uscita a Giugno 2019 per Independent Legions
The Anthology MONSTERS OF ANY KIND, edited by me and Daniele Bonfanti, has been nominated for the Splattepunk Awards 2019
Ultime uscite (in Italiano)
Disponibile In tutte le librerie, per Cut Up Pubishing, il nuovo romanzo dark thriller IL CUSTODE DI CHERNOBYL
Latest Releases (in English)
WAR -Dark Poems (written in collaboration with Marge Simon). Crystal Lake Publishing, June 2018. Available at Amazon
In uscita (in Italiano)
In uscita a giugno 2019 il nuovo romanzo NUOVA SODOMA - La Resurrezione del Re Osceno. Libro preordinabile a prezzo speciale.
Forthcoming Books in English
Preorder HANTI, The Sadist Heaven, my new novel in English coming in April 2019 by Necro Publications
My new collection, THE RADIOACTIVE BRIDE, will be released in Q3 2019 by Necro Publications. My novel NEW SODOM will be released in Q2 2020 by Necro Publications.