One Bloody Thing After Anotherby Joey Comeau
Jackie has a map of the city on the wall of her bedroom, with a green pin for each of her trees. She has a first-kiss tree and a broken-arm tree. She has a car-accident tree. There is a tree at the hospital where Jackie’s mother passed away into the long good night. When one of them gets cut down, Jackie doesn’t know what to do but she doesn’t
Jackie has a map of the city on the wall of her bedroom, with a green pin for each of her trees. She has a first-kiss tree and a broken-arm tree. She has a car-accident tree. There is a tree at the hospital where Jackie’s mother passed away into the long good night. When one of them gets cut down, Jackie doesn’t know what to do but she doesn’t let that stop her. She picks up the biggest rock she can carry and puts it through the window of a car. Smash. She intends to leave before the police arrive, but they’re early. Ann is Jackie’s best friend, but she’s got problems of her own. Her mother is chained up in the basement. How do you bring that up in casual conversation? “Oh, sorry I’ve been so distant, Jackie. My mother has more teeth than she’s supposed to, and she won’t eat anything that’s already dead.” Ann and her sister Margaret don’t have much of a choice here. Their mother needs to be fed. It isn’t easy but this is family. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’ll be okay as long as Margaret and Ann still have each other. Add in a cantankerous old man, his powerfully stupid dog, a headless ghost, a lesbian crush and a few unsettling visits from Jackie’s own dead mother, and you’ll find that One Bloody Thing After Another is a different sort of horror novel from the ones you’re used to. It’s as sad and funny as it is frightening, and it is as much about the way families rely on each other as it is about blood being drooled on the carpet. Though, to be honest, there is a lot of blood being drooled on the carpet.
Comeau never trivializes his characters' emotions, and it's what carries the novel from first bloody page to last.
This is a remarkably tender novel. . . . Quirky to a marvelous fault, Comeau's fourth book is an intricate exercise in offbeat storytelling.
"[Comeau] turns his adaptable talents to overt horror in this oddly touching novel of ghosts, friendship, bloody secrets, and family relationships. . . . A staccato structure allows for surprising intricacy in so few pages, and the crescendos of terror are leavened by moments of unexpected humor and warmth." Publishers Weekly
"The tone is poignant, sometimes wistful, and deadpan funny . . . The novel is more eccentric than gory, and what’s really shocking about it is that all the mayhem is finally about family ties, both severed and reconnected." Booklist
"Pilkey is a lively writer who manages over 230-plus pages to build a vivid sense of cop culture" Toronto Sun
"The gore and supernatural elements are a fitting complement to [Comeau's] characteristic blend of pathos and black humour." Quill & Quire
"Comeau isn’t writing for suspense. Dealing with a zombie mother is treated with the same tone as Jackie’s confusion and struggle over her love for Ann . . . The real monster tormenting Comeau’s characters is the desire for something they can’t have and the reluctance to accept what they do." Telegraph-Journal
"Comeau never trivializes his characters' emotions, and it's what carries the novel from first bloody page to last." Coast
"This is a remarkably tender novel. . . . Quirky to a marvelous fault, Comeau's fourth book is an intricate exercise in offbeat storytelling." Q Syndicate
"A really fascinating tale . . . the sort of book that Edgar Allan Poe might have enjoyed." Scene Magazine
- ECW Press
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Read an Excerpt
The window in the upstairs hallway is open. No wonder it was so cold last night. Ann slides it closed, hard, and goes down to the kitchen. There’s a bowl of cereal laid out for her breakfast, and Ann’s younger sister Margaret is already shoveling food into her face. Milk dribbles down Margaret’s chin. There’s cereal all over the tabletop.
“You’re disgusting,” Ann says. “Your friends will wait for you, you know. You don’t have to choke it down like that.”
“Hey, go slow,” their mother says, coming into the kitchen. She’s dressed up, in a gray–and–white suit, and she twirls once for her daughters. “What do you think?” she says. “Professional? Hire–able? Is the red scarf too much?”
“You look great, Mom,” Ann tells her. Margaret just keeps eating. Their mother bends down to get something from the floor. It’s a couple seconds before Ann realizes that her mother hasn’t come up again. She leans over, and sees that her mom wasn’t picking something up at all. She’s crouched down, holding a hand to her throat.
“Are you okay?” Ann says.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine, Ann.” Her mother clears her throat. “Sorry. I just have something… .” she clears her throat again louder, and then stands up, smiling. She clears her throat again. Then again.
Even Margaret is looking up from her cereal. Their mother coughs. And then she coughs harder. There’s a bit of blood on her lips now.
“Wish me luck today!” she says.
Ann’s mother was perfectly qualified, but her interview did not go well. Afterward, she ran out of the conference room holding her red scarf over her mouth, leaving two men, Jeff and Alex, sitting in silence for a long time.
Between the two of them they have interviewed thousands of men and women for various jobs. It has never before gone so ridiculously badly. They’re just sitting there. They should clean this up and call the next applicant. They’re on a schedule, after all. But instead they sit in silence.
Alex looks at the door where she ran out, and then he looks at the wet, bloody chunk of god–knows–what sitting on the table in front of them. The thing she coughed up, partway through the interview. That poor woman.
“That did not go well,” Jeff says.
He can joke because none of the blood landed on him.
Meet the Author
Joey Comeau is the author of Lockpick Pornography, Overqualified, and Too Late to Say I'm Sorry, as well as the popular web comic A Softer World. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
If I could only say one word about this book it would be DISTURBING! I read this in just a few hours and I couldn't put it down (so that's something). When I finished it my first thought was "what an awful book." However, now days later I keep thinking about it and telling people they should read it. I know, confusing right? I'm still not sure I liked it but I can't really say I didn't like it anymore either. I think I want other people to read it so I will have someone to talk to about it. It is a very short novel and I found the chapters to be almost choppy feeling, but I think that is maybe what the author was going for. There was a whole section of the book where I just kept going "huh?" So with all of that being said, I have decided not to give this book a number rating at this time because like I said I still haven't decided if I liked it or not. I do know one thing, I will probably have to read this again somewhere down the line to see if I "get" anything different off of it. You know how sometimes when you watch a movie more than once and you "get" things the second time that you didn't the first? I'm thinking that will happen with me and this book.
This book was odd. There were moments of hilarious one-liners, but then there were bits of plot that wandered as if the author didn't quite know where he wanted to go with it. I mean, all of Part III was one character reliving earlier bits of the novel or dreaming, and one chapter even ended with "Etc." I know that was supposed to be comical, but it felt like the author kind of stopped trying on that chapter. ONE BLOODY THING AFTER ANOTHER is very short. Some chapters are only a few paragraphs long, and that makes for a quick read. I can appreciate that, but sometimes the transitions between chapters left me wondering if content was accidentally cut. Jumps in characters or logic were just sometimes hard to follow. I think this book would have been better (for me) if it took itself less seriously and joked around more. It came off kind of like a cheesy horror flick at times. The characters were...different, I guess. Their stories didn't always intertwine as well as I imagine the author intended, but each had a disturbing aspect to their life I found to be interesting. I especially liked the old man's character, and his story was easily my favorite of those in this novel. So I guess we'll call that a draw. Honestly, this book read more like the text or outline for a graphic novel, which makes sense considering the author also works in that medium. However, that technique made some of the narrative weak. He doesn't use many pronouns, so we hear the characters' names a dozen times on a single page alone. It therefore has a simplistic tone I didn't enjoy. All in all, I don't think I'd recommend this. There were good one-liners and some interesting characters, but I really only finished it because I spent a whopping $15 on the paperback. I think there are much better books available out there for much less.
I was dissapointed with the content of this book.The plot was weak, the characters very under developed. I don't need books to be spoon fed to me and everything explained,but I felt so much of the book was too vague and sometimes too confusing, almost as if the author just gave up. The book was distrubing I will give it that,but I felt it wasn't a developed,well thought out spook.It seemed as if the author just chose a topic so taboo people would be disgusted without having to work too hard for it.Not worth a read in my opinion.
Joey Comeau is usually fun and short but this book just wasn't for me at all. It was well written but I just didn't enjoy it or it's content.
Joey Comeau's "One Bloody Thing After Another" was a quick read at only 165 pages, yet managed to pack in a surprisingly large amount of absurd plot twists. Comeau begins the novel as a serial story following three character's seemingly unrelated lives and as the plot develops, their stories become more entwined as their actions begin to affect each other. Jackie, a rebellious lesbian teenager spends much of the book smashing things destroying, and escaping danger, all while calling on her late mother's ghost and courting her best friend. Ann enters the scene and draws in the reader with her less than conventional family situation, to say the least. Charlie, his beloved dog, and the decapitated ghost haunting him spend most of the book on the periphery but crosses lives with Ann in a gruesome yet almost comical dog-napping. Comeau classifies this novel as a horror story, yet provides so little description in his style that almost all of the imaginative work is left up the reader. For instance, he was even able to construct a scenes of a woman eating a live baby and a litter of kittens that barely disgusted me. His lack of description and rampant use of short, bland sentences detracted from what could have otherwise been a terrifying short novel. Although I was somewhat unsatisfied with the short sentences, one to three page chapters, and lack of detail, I would still recommend this book to someone with a twisted, sick sense of humor or anyone looking for a quick quirky read. I received a review copy of this book though ECW Press.