If the title is not enough to set Bradley Sands’ latest book of fiction apart from his others, the stories within will certainly do the trick. Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy is a collection of fifty-two pieces, many of which barely break a page in length and are filled with an array of zany characters: a father who keeps a spare family in the attic, a contestant on the game show God Or No God, a suicidal amputee, a man who walks his house on a leash, a head-spinning break-dancer who rockets into space, a time-traveling giraffe on fire, and a headless man who falls in love with a bowl of rice....read more (2/2)While never straying far from the uncanny, Sands at times sheds his over-the-top oddness. At these moments we catch a glimpse of the softer side of Sands, which reveals a kind of poignancy, and perhaps even sincerity. Take for instance the single-paragraph story “Defeat Of The Mountain Spirit”:
Mount Holyoke packs a thermos and trail mix for its hike up Bradley Sands. Mount Holyoke gets up early in the morning to avoid other hikers and full exposure to the summer heat. Mount Holyoke drives to the foot of Bradley Sands. Mount Holyoke is very excited about the hike. Mount Holyoke gets out of its car. Mount Holyoke looks down at Bradley Sands and whimpers. Mount Holyoke realizes a hike up Bradley Sands will only take nine-tenths of a millisecond. Mount Holyoke releases a flash flood of sadness.
Sands knows the importance of economy; often the title of a piece works in a way that completes the story, a punch line in reverse. Take, for instance, the six-sentence story “Hide And Seek Champion”:
He hides in the ground. Liquid granite shoots through his veins, escapes through his pores. The gravestone sprouts out from the dirt. He does not. He lies there until his epitaph develops on the stone. He lies there some more.
Or in “Want To Hear Something Really Creepy?”:
I wrote this on a couch, not my couch. A couch of undeterminable origin in an unknown terrain. I wanted to write this on my couch but after sitting down on my couch and beginning to write I was no longer on my couch but on someone else’s.
While the stories within Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy aim to entertain, they certainly would not appeal to every reader. In fact, many readers might be confused or bewildered by these stories. But for those who delight in the outlandish, these pieces are sure to please. And as the bizarre bards of yore pass on the tradition, Bradley Sands carries forth the torch, which is oddly shaped and burns brightly, like a time traveling giraffe.
Bradley Sands crafts his stories like a psychotic circus ringleader leading a freak show of humor and absurdity. And while each sentence seems to be trying to outdo the weirdness of the preceding sentence, the conceptually weird story is by no means a new endeavor. After all, William S. Burroughs published his infamous Naked Lunch over fifty years ago. And while Burroughs seems to be an easily-placed influence in Sands' imagery and style, the resemblance is taken one step further in Sands' story “Archeologist”, where slang phrases ('junk sick’, etc.), and even characters come straight from that Burroughs classic, including The Tarzan Kid, The Cherubic Kid, Dr. Benway, and even Mugwumps. Though, even with Burroughs' own cast of characters in the mix, Sands' still somehow manages to out-weird the grandfather of absurd literature by throwing in another well-known character, unnamed but described as a "bug-eyed creature" that pops out and shouts, It's a trap. We can only assume this is the meme-famous Star wars character Admiral Ackbar.
Also by Michael Filippone