by Val Tenterhosen

25 Words or Less: 

Fifty-some short texts with a strong dose of the grim and grotesque about them, but not — judging by the sample — any other connective tissue.

Cover Art:

Er, well, it’s sort of not bad, isn’t it? I’m actually asking, I’m not sure. That white line at the bottom is a bit clumsy.

I’m also a little surprised to see the word “fuckers” right there on the image, as I thought Amazon didn’t allow such things, but it’s also the un-obscured title in both the page and the url so maybe I’m wrong about that. Anyway, I don’t actively dislike this cover. So there.

Formatting, Grammar & Spelling:

Professional, one obvious typo noted, American English.


It was fairly clear to me that this book isn’t my thing right after the copyright notice, which I enjoyed far more than most (this contains its current rival). There’s a lively quality to the “voice” (I won’t quote it, look in the sample if you’re inclined) that I enjoyed, and it’s safe to say that its tone is a fair representation of what’s to follow… but then comes the dedication, which seemed crass and unfunny to about the same degree that the copyright notice didn’t. Plus, that one typo. Tsk.

I’m ignoring what I take to be deliberate casualness in terms of grammar and punctuation elsewhere, as this mostly comes across as an offering of character sketches, so let’s move on, to–

 Narrative, Characterisation & Dialogue:

There are four short texts in the sample, and calling them “vignettes” might be saying too much. The second is only two lines long, one of those containing its title again, and doesn’t make any kind of sense that I can detect. The third is an oddity, what reads like a Yes-Massah Uncle Tom monologue describing the death of a Playstation Three… yes, that’s what I said.

The last one, which I assume to be cut-off midway through, is more obviously a first person narrative, now channelling what I take to be a red-neck sort who is hankering to mete out a bit of backwoods justice. It wobbles a fine line between a plausible, slangy dialect and juvenile sweariness that isn’t completely off-putting but doesn’t seem very well judged either.

But I conspicuously skipped the first piece there, didn’t I? Yes I did, and that’s because, like the fourth, it seems there is something more to it (even if it is cut short without leading anywhere in particular, and this time without the sample end to excuse it). In it we meet Old Howie, a grouchy old man who immediately feels familiar to any number of small, probably rural or isolated communities both real and fictional — and who then reveals an unpleasant, just-sub-sinister side to his personality that also feels perfectly plausible.

And it’s not badly written either. My problem with that first story (entitled “what kind of jackass sprints”, which I think is rather special) is that it is all set-up for nothing to come. It just stops. I’m okay with a good monologue, handled well they can be really engaging, but I want some kind of core story to go with character in my fiction, and this lacks it. Taken with the two pieces that follow, I fear that number four won’t progress to a satisfying anything either, and the prospect of another fifty just like these doesn’t really appeal.


Tenterhosen, eh? Sounds like an Oktoberfest pick-up line, probably delivered by a horny German to some saucy fräulein with a pair of massive jugs. Of lager.


Slightly to my surprise, I’m not deleting Daggerfuckers. I’m fairly sure I’ll never buy a copy, but if it ever goes freebie and I happen to be looking the right way, I might give it a look. My expression could be one of fascinated disgust, of course.

Maybe it should be called Rubberneckers.




= Technicalities =

Title: Daggerfuckers

Author: Val Tenterhosen

Publisher: Harpsichord (apparently, though I can find no evidence of what or who this is)

Price: $2.99 (August 2015)


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