First published back in February of 2016, Duncan P. Bradshaw’s novella ‘Celebrity Culture’ saw the British author venturing into the perplexing turf of Bizarro fiction.

DLS Synopsis:
It’s that time of the year again when the world’s finest celebrity virologists congregate for the annual Lou Gehrig Awards. Now in its thirteenth year, the event remains the very pinnacle of celebrity diseases.

The infectious atmosphere within the Roquefort Plaza is buzzing with pus-filled excitement as the masses wait to see who will claim the Locked-In Syndrome cup and have the honour of being mulched down to form their own disease for mass distribution.  Behind the curtains four B-list celebrity virologists prepare themselves for the ultimate battle in the burgeoning field of celebro-virology.

The stage is set for this year’s main event – the eagerly anticipated ‘Plague-Off’.  A random member of the public is quickly chosen from the crowd, to be cured of all diseases before the competition begins.  Each celebrity will then introduce their disease to this host at the exact same time.  The winner is the celebrity whose disease triumphs over the others.

But this year there is something stirring amongst the throngs of the ailing and the seductively septic.  The man who had ultimately been responsible for the birth of the Lou Gehrig Awards stands amongst the weeping and the withering.  Malcolm McKindy originally came to viro-fame during the eighties with his series of what came to be called ‘The Five Afflictions’.  For a handful of years he’d been the focal point in the world of viruses until disappearing off the scene.

Unbeknown to the organisers, McKindy had his own agenda for being there.  A deep-rooted conspiracy had been sullying the disease-riddled name of the Lou Gehrig Awards.  McKindly knew who was ultimately behind the bad taste that the awards left in his ulcerous mouth.  He’d been used and abused and ever since then the world of celebrity diseases had been laced with the stinking essence of corruption.

The public had been led to believe that each year the winner of the Lou Gehrig Award was mulched down into a gritty paste which would then be distributed to the poor and the incontinent.  But McKindly knew otherwise.  Luckily he also knows about a loophole in the nomination process.  And now he’s going to exploit it and take back what was rightfully his.  He’s finally going to show the world how diseases should be...

DLS Review:
For those not already familiar with the mind-boggling world of Bizarro fiction – this is going to seem like some bat-crazy shit.  And indeed that’s exactly what it is.  Even by Bizarro standards, Duncan Bradshaw’s ‘Celebrity Culture’ is one off-the-wall roller-coaster-of-a-ride through the lunacy of an incompressibly imaginative mind.

The concept behind the story itself is crazy enough.  Bradshaw’s taken our modern-day obsession with celebrities, their vacuous world and oddly alluring culture, and completely flipped it on its head.  No longer do celebrities strive for the perfect looks.  No longer is it about smooth elegant skin and finely-tuned beauty.  In Bradshaw’s delightfully warped reimagining of the world, it’s all about the diseases you carry and the perverse wackiness that your body endures from these infections.

However, where the real brain-jarring madness comes into full swing is through the telling of the story.  Not a single sentence goes by without Bradshaw injecting some degree of random lunacy into it.  I kid you not, pretty much every sentence either goes off on some wacky tangent, or the descriptions used are so weird and perverse that it gets you double-taking.

One thing’s for sure – you absolutely cannot take even the smallest aspect of this novel for granted.  Nor can you take anything even remotely seriously.  Remember, you’ve now willingly plunged yourself into the mind of Duncan Bradshaw.  You’re completely at the mercy of his strange imagination and all the eccentric oddities that his curious mind can conjures up.  Indeed, it quickly becomes apparent that the only way you’ll be able to wade through the veritable quagmire of lunacy is by simply succumbing to the madness.  By embracing the fact that anything is possible, and everything is malleable in Bradshaw’s world, you’ll find that you’ll then be free to sit back and enjoy what will then become a fantastic exploration into an excitable oddball’s playground of strangeness.

Okay, so my choice of words to describe Bradshaw’s ‘Celebrity Culture’ may seem a tad on the colourful side.  However, there’s really no other way in which to attempt to describe the sheer lunacy on offer here.  It’s wild and out-there, but nevertheless still follows a strangely organic path which somehow keeps the oddness within some sort of invisible reins.

And of course there’s humour.  By Beyonce’s bouncing butt cheeks is there humour!  At times you’ll see the mounting complexity of Bradshaw’s wacky prose making way to a sudden burst of outlandish humour; like Moses parting the Great Sea of Surreality.  And more often than not this humour will be dipped in a clinging mucus of disgustingness – juggling comedy with repulsion in that timeless dance that we all know works so well.

So there you have it.  Bradshaw’s ‘Celebrity Culture’ summed up and verbosely dissected to the best of my ability.  It’s certainly not a novel for everyone.  In fact, I’d say only about forty-percent of the population would probably get what Bradshaw was aiming to achieve, let alone enjoy the escalating perplexity of the journey there.  But for those who choose to venture into the curious reaches of the unknown; to peel back the foreskin of repugnance (to quote Bradshaw himself) and allow this lunatic-of-a-writer complete control over the world around you – then you’re in for some kick-you-in-the-crotch-craziness in a world that’s just possibly even more mixed up than our own.

Keep a tight hold of your sanity boys and girls because Bradshaw’s at the controls and this madman’s train is set to derail…

The novella runs for a total of 102 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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