Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review: The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon

Bucket 'O' Guts Press made an inspired choice when they chose Catherine J Gardner's tale of twisted woe as the flagship for their chap book series.

Their guidelines state: We want fiction that cannot be classified or pigeonholed. The only contingency is your story must leave us all scratching our heads. Make us say “WTF?” But force us to read it again. Plant an earworm that gnaws away at our grey matter and leaves behind a plaque of damn good storytelling.

I decided I'd read Cate's offering this afternoon as it would be a quick read and be a good way for me to kick start me back into work. By the end of it I was definitely asking WTF? And then I read it again.

On opening the slim book, I was amused to find this little caveat on the inside front cover: This chapbook and the characters herein are a work of fiction. If this story or characters have any resemblance to your own life, then it is a coincidence, or you need to share whatever it is that you're smoking.

Couple that with the earlier stated guidelines and you just know you're in for something different.

If you're new to the Catherine J Gardner brand of fiction, then 'The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon' will leave you in no doubt as to the unique voice, the mastery of the metaphor, and the exquisite use of vivid narrative description this author has developed from years of penning the weird and wonderful. It will also leave you searching out her online work and with a want to quickly obtain her printed material.

I'm lucky enough to have read (and own) a great deal of Cate's work and to be able to call her a friend, but with all sentiments aside, Olive will make you think, and when you get to the reveal, it will definitely make you say 'WTF?'

On a personal note, I've read two chapbooks this year - Olive and Felicity Dowker's Phantasy Moste Grotesk (not sure if they have any left though). If this is the quality we have to look forward to with future releases of chapbooks, I for one will be ordering often and early to ensure I get one - I suggest you do the same.

Chapbooks don't get a gig on my review scale. They are a different animal and can't be held up alongside full novels or anthologies in my opinion. Flick's didn't get a score and neither does Cate's but I would happily give both a 4 out of 5 on the Amazon scale of things if that helps you decide on whether to buy them or not.


  1. It's a beautiful case of WTF indeed-- until you start to get it, huh? That's when it's time to put it down and walk away, maybe...

    Good stuff!

  2. Gulp!

    You are made of all things wonderful.

  3. I enjoyed Olive Lemon as well, BT, and now look at things about me and try to put an Olivesque spin on them. A unique style that will serve Cate well in the future.

  4. I have read a lot of Cate's work and this is my favorite so far.

  5. Nothing like a satisfying "WTF?" moment. I plan to hang my SOUR TASTE OF OLIVE LEMON poster in the dining room!

  6. Hey, no fair, Nat - you have a poster!

    Glad you approve, Cate - I really enjoyed it. Well done on an excellent piece of work.