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  7 BRAINS
By MICHAEL LOUIS CALVILLO (Burning Effigy Press; 2011)

Itís been said the ultimate compliment you can give a horror story is it makes you question its authorís sanity. Iíll confess that was the case with this deeply sick novella, meaning itís a success.

     This is the sixth book by Michael Louis Calvillo, and his third to be published in 2011. In true Calvillo fashion, itís not really like anything else--if anything, it occupies (roughly) the same category as the authorís previous Ď11 novella BLEED FOR YOU, being a dark-humored gross-out far removed from more thoughtful Calvillo efforts like I WILL RISE and AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT. Yet taken on its own terms 7 BRAINS more than works, with a decidedly unique tone set by the dedication: ďFor Michelle (the authorís wife)ÖI promise I will never eat your brain.Ē

     Unfortunately Malcolm, the protagonist of 7 BRAINS, makes no such promise. Not in the opening chapter (entitled ďFood for ThoughtĒ) at least, when he inexplicably smashes in his wifeís skull and, under the guidance of a foreign accented voice in his head, ravenously devours his belovedís brain.

     It turns out the voice belongs to a split-off part of Malcolmís psyche thatís concerned about him, and mankind in general, losing humanity. To regain Malcolmís lost humanity his chatty alter ego--who Malcolm christens Einstein because itís such a know-it-all--demands that Malcolm devour six more brains, each belonging to a person with specific attributes: ambition, innocence, love, honesty, benevolence and anger (Malcolmís wife, it seems, represented desire). Going about this is obviously easier said than done, and involves a lot of unpleasantness.

     Calvillo is to be commended for seeing his sick-assed premise through to its darkest limits (not to give anything away, but Malcolmís wife isnít the only member of his immediate family to fall prey to Einsteinís psychotic demands) while never losing sight of the underlying humor of the piece. Perhaps best of all, at just $8.00 itís the first Calvillo book in some time thatís reasonably priced!

     

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