Reading The Pitchfork Diaries, Volume 1 made me wonder what terrible things had happened to Jake Bannerman as a child. Works of horror are often the products of a haunted mind, but this collection suggest Bannerman’s mind was torn out with a bear trap, violated in twenty-seven different ways, and then jammed screaming back into his head. These are brutal stories, with a rough execution and disturbing subject matter, so much so that only the strongest of constitution will be able to make it through to the end.
By the time you’ve finished “The Scarecrow’s Lament,” you’ll know if you qualify. The story is graphic and depraved, its main character a local Texan woman who 49 years ago created a scarecrow of defiled animal and human parts. I’ll leave it to you to find out what she does with it. This and all the stories to follow are unrelenting, without a hint of sunshine to tell you that you’re safe in this world. It’s a grim view of reality, fueled by acts of desecration against humanity. Fortunately, the stories and poems are only a few pages each, sustaining their violent energy only so long before offering the reader a well-deserved sanity break.
Bannerman intertwines sex and death in sickening fashion. Necrophilia, infanticide, and mutilation populate these stories. We are born only to violate, be violated, and die horribly. Religion offers no relief, as it’s run by greedy phonies and worshipped by homicidal mad men. Politics are an end game for more bloodshed. Sex itself is unhealthy; the body is under attack, the act itself destructive, instead of reproductive. This attitude culminates in “Coffin Sex,” the natural result of Banneman’s views on copulation. When a married couple chooses to engage while buried in a coffin, with hopes to win a million dollars, it cannot end well.
Reading Bannerman’s stories is the literary equivalent of listening to death metal band Cannibal Corpse while someone kicks you in the teeth. It’s extremist in both content and execution, for only the bravest or most depraved of souls. Enter at your own risk.