Jon Bassoff, the man behind Nerd favorite indie publishing house New Pulp Press, gives us one hell of a debut with Corrosion, a psycho noir that will please the living shit out of the sick fucks who enjoy the novels he’s been distributing to the crime world the last few years. Devoted fans of NPP’s output like myself will quickly recognize some of Bassoff’s pet themes like twisted Christianity, regionalism, identity, and madness in Corrosion, but his take on such interests is entirely his own. Corrosion is an endlessly surprising, highly original work that will singe your heart and jolt your brain.
The novel follows the horribly disfigured ex-Marine Joseph Downs as he gets stranded in a small Colorado town when his truck breaks down. At the local watering hole Downs comes to the aide of a trashy barfly with an abusive husband, the two not long after beginning an affair. When Lilith starts mentioning her husband’s huge life insurance policy you think you have an idea where Corrosion is going, but the Nerd promises you that your worm-riddled apple cart will be tres fucking upset a few fucking times before you come to the end of this beast.
And because of the numerous turns that the novel takes the Nerd doesn’t want to get too deep into the story of Corrosion, but lemme tell you that this shit is wonderfully told with lots of tantalizing nuggets of information dropped along the dread-filled way that leave you dying to know how it all adds up. The novel is related through a strong first-person perspective that isn’t afraid of a vivid or gruesome bit of description or style but also keeps its eye on the prize, brevity-wise. (Unlike that sentence the Nerd just wrote…) Bassoff’s Joseph Downs is a helluva guide through this (excuse the Nerd’s redundancy) hellscape, a character who can shock with his depravity on one page and break your heart with his fragile, ugly humanity on another.
Essentially, this is the kind of shit you come peeking around the Nerd’s online hangouts for, the type of intense, agonizing experience that only a handful of modern writers today can truly inflict upon you. Jon Bassoff has long been a guy with kick-ass taste, but now we know for certain that he’s also got serious chops as an artist. Pick up Corrosion and be gutted, dear reader- you’ll thank me after the hospital stay.