When I dropped by Farley’s Bookshop a few weeks ago, Jordan Krall did his best to talk me out of buying his latest novel, which was ironic since he was in the store for a book signing along with his friend and fellow author Josh Myers. What’s more, when I asked what his book was about, all he said was that it was very strange, or something to this effect. It turns out that he was right. Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys is a very strange book.
The basic premise of the novel, loosely speaking, is that a film buff attempting to track down a copy of a rare movie titled The Apocalypse Donkey falls in love with a former stripper whose husband is a psychotic former motorcycle daredevil. Worth noting is the fact that the former stripper wears a donkey mask throughout the novel. Also worth noting is the fact that the novel opens with an epigram that reads, “Continuity is a myth.” And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that a giant hummingbird factors into the plot as well. And pancakes. And a murder. And for fans of Peter Davison era Doctor Who, a cricket bat.
Elements of Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys brought to mind Terry Southern’s Blue Movie and Chuck Palahniuk’s Snuff. There’s also a hint of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, along with a healthy dose of David Lynch. Additionally, the novel fits in well with others of the Bizarro genre — D. Harlan Wilson’s Codename Prague and They Had Goat Heads, for example, or Anderson Prunty’s The Beard — so it’s no coincidence that Garrett Cook, author of Archelon Ranch, offers a foreword that notes, among other things, that Krall is perhaps best known “for his days in dimly-lit bare-knuckle boxing clubs and his role as Reggie in the ill-starred live action Archie tv show.”
So let’s put it this way: If you’re the kind of person who would buy a book called Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys, then there’s a decent chance that you’ll enjoy Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys.
Otherwise, consider yourself warned.