Stars: 4 - Strongly Recommended to lovers of the strange and gory
Publisher: Fungasm Press
Released: February 2016
If you threw Joe's Apartment and the cockroach scene from Creep Show into a martini shaker with the books The Ruins and Hearers of the Constant Hum, and spiked it with a-broken-heart-love-story-of-your-choice, what you poured out might look something like this.
Fucked up in all the right ways, Danger Slater's I Will Rot Without You is the perfect companion book for the love-sick and left-behind. With Gretchen gone, our main man Ethan has slipped into a mental funk and has begun to let things go. The bills are piling up, his apartment is being overtaken by cockroaches, and strange, fuzzy mold is sprouting out of his bathroom sink. You know how it goes. When the heart aches something fierce, everything else can go to hell, including your personal hygiene, and you can say goodbye to a good night's sleep because that little bitch is no where to be found.
"For me, sleep doesn't come easy. Not anymore. And when it finally does come, it merely passes through me as transiently as the breeze that passes through the tops of the trees. There's nothing to hold on to. Just air. For me, sleep is just a series of extended blinks...It's the place where memories refuse to die. Memories like cockroaches themselves. It's the place where I can still see her."
Tell me you haven't been there? Tell me that doesn't sum it up perfectly? Haunted by the history and memories you've made, tossing and turning and cry-vomiting yourself to sleep, knowing the moment you nod off, your unconscious mind will take over and bring her back to you, like old home movies being played against the back of your eyelids. You've been there. You know how hard it is to move on.
And Ethan's not the only one who's struggling to let go. There's his drop-dead gorgeous, down-the-hall neighbor Dee, whose jealous boyfriend has been severing off parts of his body and sewing them on to hers, and his other neighbor Humboldt, who has strung his dead mummified wife up like a puppet in their kitchen.
Things really start taking a turn for the bizarre, though, when Ethan awakens from one of his dreams to a cockroach feeding him some of the bathroom mold. As the ingested fungus starts to take hold and he slowly begins to rot from the inside out, Ethan goes from licking his love wounds to a man on a cockroach-ass-kicking mission, but the roaches have other things in mind for him. And so does the world, apparently. Because as Ethan and Dee prepare to battle the bugs, a storm of apocalyptic proportions is starting to gather outside...
Strangely beautiful in its repulsiveness, I Will Rot Without You continuously surprises you with its grotesque descriptions, which are softened only by the gentle prose in which Danger has wrapped them. The violence of the novel is astonishing, the gore is glorious, and though it physically hurts to read it, it's impossible to stop.
"Buckets of intestine spray across the kitchen with geyserlike profusion. Guts and blood and chunks of torn flesh splatter against the cabinets like paint from the tip of an abstract artist's brush...from the cistern of Humboldt's ruptured abdomen the bugs Deirdre vomited into his mouth now reemerge. They spill over the edge of his wound like basalt from the earth and crawl out in all directions."
followed by the glorious...
"I press my face against hers and we kiss. We kiss like our kissing were the only raft we had left to hang on to. And my face starts to melt. And so does hers. Our faces melt into each other. And our bodies melt into each other too. Skin like sheets of paint stretching from her body onto mine, blended together..."
again, and again, and again.