Review Index


ADAM PEPPER (Eraserhead Press; 2009)

After TEENAGE TIMEBERWOLVES, this novella gets my vote for the sickest publication of 2009. According to the author’s forward, the dark humored SUPER FETUS began as a gross-out short story, and has already offended and upset many readers. For my part, I laughed a lot reading this book, which I guess says as much about me as it does the text itself.

     Adam Pepper is the author of MEMORIA, a convoluted sci fi/horror novel that made a minor splash a few years back. SUPER FETUS is shorter and more focused--and overall so different from the earlier book it might as well have been written by another author entirely.

     Predicated on the idea that “there simply aren’t enough positive role models for our young, developing fetuses today,” the narrative pivots on a male fetus who discovers, to its great annoyance, that its mother wants it aborted. That mother, one Sue Ellen, is a white trash-to-the-nth-power bitch stuck with three kids, two of whom she can easily do without. She doesn’t want a fourth rug rat, and attempts to have it aborted--the fetus itself, however, has no intention of letting itself get sucked out of its mother’s womb. An irrepressible trash talker (like mother like fetus), it christens itself “Super Fetus” and takes to working out inside Sue Ellen so it can withstand the force of the abortionists’ tools.

     In his forward Pepper claims he wasn’t attempting to convey any pro or anti-abortion messages, although the story can (and, I’m sure, will) be taken either way. It works best, however, as precisely what it is: a sick joke taken too far.

     The opening pages, contrasting the fed-up fetus’s first-person observations--“Wah. Wah. Wah. Bitch. Bitch. Bitch…For ten fucking months now I’ve been listening to this!”--with its mother trying to shower while one of her brats pisses on the floor nearby, adequately set the tone. If you flinch here I strongly doubt you’ll enjoy the rest of this novella, which includes generous doses of graphic sexuality, foul language and general bad behavior by a cast of uniformly vile and moronic characters.

     Eventually things come to a head, with Sue Ellen bound and determined to get rid of the Super Fetus by any means necessary, and the fetus, defiant to the end, refusing to budge: “Imagine what that bitch’ll do if I come out. Not a chance. I ain’t leaving.” What eventually occurs is, in keeping with the rest of the book, gross and hilarious. Hilarious, that is, if you like your humor in the demented and/or scatological vein. I do, and so enjoyed SUPER FETUS a great deal.