Saturday, 25 August 2012

Promo Sunday: Brian Bowyer

Welcome Children of the Night to another Sunday Promo. This week's spotlight is shining brightly down on Brian Bowyer and his novel Shelf Life.

Brian has been writing stories and music for most of his life. He has lived all over the East Coast. He has worked as a musician, a banker, a bartender, a bouncer, and a bomb maker for a coal-testing laboratory. He currently lives and writes in the mountains of West Virginia, although this may change at any moment. You can contact him at


Nina has issues. She wants to be a writer when she grows up because she needs to get some things off her mind. Her mother abandoned her at birth, then went on to become the world's most popular porn star. Nina lives with her father, an alcoholic, drug-addicted screenwriter in Los Angeles. Her father's best friend (a deranged schizophrenic) also lives with them. The madness of her life is driving her crazy. Then she gets brain cancer. Determined to beat it, she meets another child genius in the hospital and they form an immediate friendship. Just as things are looking up, she discovers that her mother is not only the world's most popular porn star, but also one of the sickest serial killers imaginable. Nina has always wanted to meet her mother. Now she fears her mother wants to meet her.


Nathan finished a painting in his fourth-floor master bedroom. The painting depicted a woman loading a gun. The woman was pregnant. A cigarette dangled from her lips. He wrote his signature in black at the bottom-left corner of the canvas, then took the elevator down to the second floor. He walked a long hallway to the last door on the left. The steel door was locked from the outside. He peered through a one-way peephole into the room beyond. In the center of the room, Thomas—strapped naked atop an operating table—stared at his refection in a mirror on the ceiling. Nathan went downstairs and stepped outside. He descended the driveway in a silver Lamborghini. The gate in the estate wall was open. He drove to West Hollywood and picked up Lamia, who was waiting for him in front of Bradley’s studio. In the passenger’s seat, she turned down the stereo. 
   “Is Thomas still alive?”
   “Excellent,” she said. “Let’s torture him to death.” 
Her makeup was smeared. Her blond hair was a mess. To conceal the scars that covered her body, she wore a long-sleeved shirt and black vinyl pants. Nathan knew that Lamia’s scars were what had made her a famous porn star. The scars provided mystery; they left her fans to speculate about what had happened to her. Merging with traffic, he asked, “How was work?” 
   “Humiliating. Pony Boy made me cry.” 
   “On camera?” 
   “Yeah. Bradley loved it. While Pony Boy was splitting me in half, Bradley smoked cigars and laughed his ass off. I was hoping the fat bastard would have a heart attack.” 
   “Nonsense,” Nathan said, knowing that Bradley Spitzer—the morbidly obese CEO of Beastfuck Pictures—was one of the people Lamia most admired. 
They spoke no more until they arrived at Nathan’s mansion.

What a read. There was times when I would only want to read 1 chapter just to kill time but I would wind up reading at least 3 chapters. I couldn't put the book down. A thriller of a read with love, Murder and drugs and alcohol all rolled into one. It was an amazing book. Nina was awesome with all her knowledge despite her illness. The things that Lamia and Nathan got up to where just barbaric and gory. I will defiantly buy more books from this author in the future. Great job.

I read SHELF LIFE yesterday. I've given myself a day to process it before writing this review.

Brian Bowyer is obviously a good writer. I can't imagine he would want or need my opinion on that. Nonetheless, I will say he exhibits craftsmanship, too. His sentences have good bones. And he dresses them with economy and flair. I also appreciate his ability to tell a story, which is something of a waning art here and now. So it seems to me he's a good author, too.

About the novel--(I don't like labeling or pigeonholing so please excuse this admittedly superficial metaphor) if I were to try and triangulate the work with exemplars of genre or style, I might try to sector it near Stephen King/Kurt Vonnegut/Quentin Tarantino. As Vonnegut is the only one of those three in my wheelhouse, this novel really shouldn't have been my cup of tea. That said, I can maybe more objectively regard it to spite my ignorance, so to speak. It was a damned interesting read. It's been a long time since I read a book in one sitting, and I really enjoyed that.

It's a fascinating story. It repels and compels. SHELF LIFE is a naked and profound look at the consequences of post-modern American society on the human soul. The juxtaposition of nihilist and narcissist paradigms with simple and pure human connections expose the moral bankruptcy of modern life. From the beginning, Lamia builds as a boiling-over manifestation of misogynist social urges like Dorian Gray's portrait out on the town. And from Steve's "Goddamned American dream" to Frisk's worthless wealth, all material pursuit pales compared to Tyler and Nina racing to find good moments in a childhood doomed with no hope for the future--a boy grown old too fast in a brutal time, and the perfect girl who can't live. The parents of the terminal children voice the search for peace in defiance of deprivation in a spiritually bereft world. Somewhere near the center, tragic and turbid, Emily and Jeremy revolve, seeming to suggest that all things fall apart yet somehow hold.

Heavy stuff, indeed. This society's shelf life looks past due. Or maybe there's a shelf life on self-destruction. In the end, what remains is more creation than destruction. Music, marriage, and remission make a strong final chord of hope, or at least respite, after a dark tale.

5 stars and unconditional recommendation.

Never has a book affected me like Shelf Life. I read it in one sitting because I couldn't stop. I'm sure I'll read it again, even though I don't need to. I can't get the story or characters out of my head. There are scenes in this book that will haunt me forever. The prose flows like a river. Not a word is wasted. Every page stresses the beautiful and heartbreaking strangeness of the human condition. Lost innocence and disaffected youth, addiction and terminal illness, schizophrenia and stardom, romance and serial murder--these are just a few of the themes explored in this novel. I laughed, I cried, and more than once I glanced at my door to make sure it was locked while reading Shelf Life. If you like your fiction safe, look elsewhere. If you like dangerous, unforgettable fiction, do yourself a favor and read this novel. I doubt you'll forget it. I know I won't. I would give it more than five stars if I could.

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