Murdaland – 2007
Sheheryar B. Sheikh
One look at Murdaland’s cover and you know that you won’t be disappointed. It shows a potbellied assassin taking aim with a nearly-finished cigarello in his mouth, nothing but boxers on, and a look of precision in his one open eye.
One look at Murdaland’s cover and you know that you won’t be disappointed. It shows a potbellied assassin taking aim with a nearly-finished cigarello in his mouth, nothing but boxers on, and a look of precision in his one open eye. The slob is aiming just to the reader’s left, which makes a reading safe, but not for those around you. Kudos to designer Tyler Moore and photographer Terry Gratuity for letting us know that even in suburbia, our neighbors are nuts, and we’d better watch out. That, in essence, is Murdaland’s take on life: nobody is safe from the grotesque. All inclusions are either stories or novel excerpts, and most of them are sexy, bloody and very good. My favorite pieces combine gore and humor in uncanny ways. Such as Anthony Neil Smith’s “Lovers Through All Eternity and Forevermore” is about a Goth boy planning his girlfriend’s funeral. The first-person narrative is exquisitely macabre. This line is an example: “Oh, my lover Hannah. She was good in bed. Often at climax, she’d scream, ‘I hate you!’” This is an exclamation that belongs in Murdaland. It fits the theme like a telescopic lens snapping snugly into place above the rifle’s barrel. The journal also plays host to a Latin master of the gruesome, Rolo Diez, whose translated piece “Eclipse” contains the stunning lines: “As citizens of the twenty-first century, we believe we have brought our terrors up to date. Now that we no longer fear the thunder or the mammoth, what frightens is poverty, sickness, being rejected by others…” and “However, at night the house of fear is still erected. Neither the child nor the Cro-Magnon has left us.” Besides Diez, there are other masters here. An excerpt from Mary Gaitskill’s work in progress is included, as is a newly found novella by David Cassidy, the writer of life’s underbelly. By these first glimpses of the grand filth and unnerving mayhem, it looks as though Murdaland has found a comfortable place in our world.