Cannibal Fat Camp Review
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I admire writers who can take horror and comedy and meld them together effectively to create dark social satire. As I delve more and more into the world of Bizarro fiction and hardcore horror, I’m finding authors who, while producing content that’s both graphically and sexually violent, are nonetheless molding interesting and intelligent narratives. And if readers can keep their stomach contents down and their outraged emotions in check, these works can be surprisingly cathartic and potent.

Some writers are more extreme than others. Edward Lee and Wrath James White, for instance, are on the extreme end, while David Wong (John Dies at the End) hangs out on the other. Authors Mark C. Scioneaux and David C. Hayes, writers of Cannibal Fat Camp, fall somewhere in the middle of the scale.

Cannibal Fat Camp is essentially a retelling of Lord of the Flies, but it’s set at a summer camp for fat kids, where every kid is a Piggy. And there are females, too. And while neither of the authors will potentially win a Nobel Prize à la William Golding, they have created a fun and satirical narrative that has moments of gore and bad taste (pun intended) that are simultaneously humorous and cringe-inducing.

Our main protagonist is Miles Landish, a fat and overindulgent high-schooler who can’t help eating. In fact, when we meet Miles, he’s breaking into lockers in the hall of his school, looking for his classmates’ lunches. Poor Miles also has some pretty egregious parents. His mother coddles him by calling him Miley, and his father is rarely there. In order to help him lose weight and learn some self-discipline, Miles is sent to fat camp.

At camp Tum Tum, Miles meets others, like Jenny Running Bear, all of whom are there to have their lives changed. Soon, disaster strikes when the camp counselors, unbeknownst to them, consume contaminated protein powder called Mega Swole and die, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. One of the boys (a substitute for Jack), becomes the de facto voice of the group and the charismatic leader of the cannibal cult. With the counselors dead, no communication with the outside, and all food gone, what is there to do but eat the other white meat? And, boy, do these kids indulge—and graphically. There are even some recipes for some yummy prime human flesh stew thrown in for some saliva-activating fun. This book should not be read on a full stomach—and I mean that as a compliment.

The narrative itself mixes personal letters, official camp forms, and newspaper accounts to tell the story of the descent of corpulent man (or child). Add some satirical attacks on corporate corruption and manipulation, and you can gorge yourself without feeling as though you’re consuming empty calories.

The novel reads fast, and this is its weakness. There is a satisfactory build, as the kids revert to primitive and cannibalistic behavior, but the ending feels a little abrupt. An unsatisfactory ending can usually ruin a book, but that’s not the case with Hayes and Scioneaux’s book (or novella in this case). For me, the point is to satirize and parody, and an author is granted some leeway in narrative construction when the purpose is (non-didactic) social commentary. Cannibal Fat Camp is a Troma Studio-inspired b-movie schlock-fest in the best possible way, but it also highlights some issues we are dealing with in America, such as obesity and body image. However, at its juicy core, Cannibal Fat Camp is about atavistic urges and basic instinct and our primal need to consume—where, ultimately, we become consumed by what we crave.

It’s a narrative to sink your teeth into—even for a vegetarian like me.

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