Review by Bob Freville
Duncan P. Bradshaw’s Mr. Sucky is very funny and very British. From its first paragraphs, we are graced with a scenario straight out of a Monty Python episode. By that, I mean that Bradshaw takes familiar imagery and subverts expectations with hilariously matter-of-fact horror that’s at once bust-a-gut funny and uber-cringey.
Few writers could manage to wring laughs out of child abuse. Bradshaw not only succeeds on the very first page but keeps us hoping he’ll up the ante. Like hearing a comedian riff on The Aristocrats gag, the reader latches on to this devilishly irreverent read and waits in jubilant anticipation for the next groty detail to emerge.
Bradshaw doesn’t disappoint, skillfully one-upping himself in each successive sequence. The design of the book is itself a masterfully-executed joke; Mr. Sucky doesn’t have the outward appearance of a novel or novella. It is over-sized, oddly thin and specifically designed to resemble a poorly photocopied user manual.
It is so convincing in this regard that my better half actually stuck it in the box with a shitty vacuum cleaner we had recently purchased at Target, mistaking it for the actual manual that came with the piece of shit. Had it not been for me catching her in time, Mr. Sucky would have been going back to the store before I’d even had a chance to read it…and that would have sucked.
This kind of Andy Kaufman-esque gag might draw an exasperated yawn from some jaded millennial reader, but for those of us who were alive during the years of National Lampoon and the Theater of the Absurd, it’s a warm and welcome return to interactive and impish humor.
That’s right, get off my fucking lawn!
Mr. Sucky concerns the playful and putrid mishaps of a serial killer, his latest would-be “victim” and the killer’s dim-witted “acolyte”. But then that is like saying Mel Brooks’ The Producers is about two desperate men trying to stage a play; the description is far too simple and doesn’t do it any justice.
Without spoiling all of the surprises that this “manual” has in store for you, I can safely say that Mr. Sucky is meant for people who relish clever twists, colorful colloquialisms and dastardly denouements that don’t exactly go the way you’d expect them to.
While reading this charming book, one gets the nagging sense that they are talking to a familiar voice, perhaps the demented id or superego of their own private brain nugget. Bradshaw handles dialogue in much the same way that maverick crime writer George V. Higgins or controversial playwright-cum-filmmaker Martin McDonagh employs it; the conversations are the action and fucked if they’re not a full-on assault of the imagination.
I should confess to being a hardcore Anglophile who was weaned on the comical wonders of Benny Hill, The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers and The Dangerous Brothers. As such, I may be predisposed to Mr. Bradshaw’s particular brand of comedy. But I trust that anyone who reads this will agree that it’s an absurdly awesome tome that offers all the wit, cringe and reward of the best ripping yarn.
Mr. Sucky is billed as a Gore Com publication and I have to say that “gorecom” pretty well describes the book’s blend of the macabre and the mundane. A perfect example of the ghoulish comedy that Bradshaw has in store for you can be found on page 22 when our befuddled villain, Clive Beauchamp, reminds himself of his personal mantra.
Instead of WWJD or YOLO, Beauchamp’s acronym is the hilariously and arbitrarily long PFAETCHWUTTKS, or Prepare For Any Eventuality That Could Happen When You Try To Kill Someone. Remember, it works better with a Welsh lilt. ; )
The best thing that I can say about Mr. Sucky is that it has few peers in literature or, really, any other artistic medium. The closest you’ll probably get is Quentin Dupieux’s 2011 film Rubber, but even that highly meta exercise in deconstructured horror-comedy pales in comparison to what Bradshaw has attempted and achieved with this one.
If you’re anything like me, this waggish novella will leave an idiot grin on your face akin to the adorable smiley face illustration on its back jacket. As the author’s official website declares, Mr. Sucky is ready to come out of the cleaning closet. Snatch him up today.
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