Three speeding trains are about to crash into each other. Speeding train #1 is Jackie. Jackie is a teen lesbian in love with her best friend, Ann. She’s volatile, angry, and can disappear by invoking her dead mother. Speeding train #2 is Ann. She’s grown distant from Jackie lately not because, as Jackie fears, she’s sick of her or their relationship. Rather, Ann’s Mom is turning into a monster of some sort and Ann is preoccupied with finding things to feed her - bloody steaks will no longer satisfy her cravings. The third train may not be speeding as much as rolling along. Elderly Charlie and his ancient dog, Mitchie, go for their daily walks and enjoy each other’s company. What Charlie doesn’t enjoy is the headless ghost who exhorts him to knock on his neighbor, Mrs. Richard’s, door everyday. Is Mrs. Richards hiding a secret or is Charlie losing his mind? Jackie, Ann, and Charlie pass through each other’s lives, wreaking havoc (knowingly and unknowingly) as they deal with both literal and figurative demons.
One Bloody Thing After Another by Joey Comeau is a strange and satisfying book. Comeau plays with dialogue, time, and place skillfully. Even when the story doesn’t progress in a linear fashion, the narrative trains speeding towards each other make sense and the reader finds themselves hoping the pedal will be put to the metal.
Both Jackie and Ann are well-conceived teen characters. Jackie alternates between mooning over Ann and dangerous willful destruction of property and self. Only a teenager has that intensity of lust and rage. Ann’s sense of being overwhelmed in caring for her Mom and keeping up the facade of normalcy eventually breaks down in a shocking, outrageous way. In addition, the relationship between Charlie and dog Mitchie is twisted and hilarious. Charlie spends their walks bemoaning Mitchie’s dawdling and desire to stop and be petted by random strangers. But it’s clear Mitchie just might be Charlie’s last tie to sanity.
One Bloody Thing After Another is a weird, gruesome, out-of-control book and I enjoyed it a lot. I think readers who aren’t afraid to try something different will be delighted with the blood and lust and intrigued by the unusual narrative style.
As a total aside, this book has one of my very favorite covers of all time. It truly captures the creepy, discombobulated nature of the book itself.