The first word that comes to mind when trying to describe the shorts stories of Jonathan Woods found in his collection Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem is shameless. Dude’s shit is all kinds of shameless – shameless in its vulgarity, its political incorrectness, its pulpiness. Bad Juju is simply unabashed pulp taken to eleven, and you better believe the Nerd can dig it.
If you’re down with the online crime mag scene you’ve probably come across Woods in the past, his shit having appeared in Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher, and Thuglit. The genres Woods dips into are all over the place. There are adventure stories, supernatural stories, classic noir tales, and straight-up dark comedies in Bad Juju. The settings are also incredibly varied, with pieces taking place in Japan, central America, the South, and the Caribean just for starters. But through it all there’s no getting around that it is the same wild-ass raconteur behind each, an author who never met a sexual metaphor too distasteful or a sickening plot twist too disgusting. In other words: subtle this shit ain’t, but fun it sure as fuck is.
There are very few clunkers in this crazy-solid collection but there are definitely some standouts. “Then What Happened?” is the best of a number of femme fatale stories in Bad Juju, nastiness stacked on nastiness until a sickly hilarious climax. “An Orphan’s Tale,” about a beautiful nymphet kidnapped by a sex-crazed preacher, reads like a Woodrell story dumped in a vat of moonshine and boiled over hellfire. “Incident in the Tropics” is arguably the most original story in the collection, a tale of two vacationers whose arrogance cost an innocent boy his life. “Blue Fin” is essentially an extended car chase through the streets of Tokyo over a prime cut of expensive tuna. The novella that closes Bad Juju, “No Way, Jose,” more than got the Nerd’s mouth set for when Woods drops a full-on novel onto my plate – fingers crossed that shit happens toot-fucking-sweet.
But those are merely the highlights in all-around extremely solid collection. New Pulp Press has been gaining a reputation for putting out quality, fucked up works that your average publishing house would toss in the “completely fucking unmarketable” pile. For we of the basement crazy cloth they are doing God’s work, and you better believe that Bad Juju fits ever so snugly into their ever growing bible of nasty fuckery.