Random Monster Corporation Review
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How can I talk about David James Searle’s Random Monster Corporation: Attack of the Vampire Octopus without commenting on the transcendent prose and intricately plotted narrative? Easy. They don’t exist in this novella. What does exist is puerile humor—along with a tonal style that reads like it was written by an adult with the mentality of a 14-year-old who got hold of a computer and drank way too much coffee (or consumed way too much LSD).

And had way too much fun in the process.

I’m a very catholic reader (and I don’t mean that I simply read Bible verses), so I appreciate different forms of literature and narrative styles, both high and low. My favorite film is An American Werewolf in London, but I teach and love the narrative structure of Polanski’s Chinatown. I’ve tackled Joyce and Carlton Mellick on the same night.

And it just so happens that I read some Joyce and David James Searle on the same night. Guess which one I found myself laughing with the most?

Granted, Joyce is not above the lowbrow—but Searle has loaded this novella with nothing but. Written as a random series of events, Random Monster Corporation plugs readers into the juvenile (and surreal) center of our brains (generally easier to do for boys, but I don’t like to generalize). In chapter one, we meet Nikki Fontaine, a foul-mouthed 4-year-old drug dealer (think an amped-up Chloe Grace Moretz from Kick-Ass), and it all does downhill (or up, depending on your point of view) from here. She teams up with Gary, the alien shit vampire octopus, whom she hopes will help her narcotics business.

Add to the mayhem Gary’s other violent alien pals (Nigel TuckWank the Psychedelic Vomit-Tarantula, Quince-Fredrick the Razor-Fisted Pube Masticator, Malcolm Fuckaar the C**t-Eating Orange Party Balloon), and read while Searle’s stream of consciousness plays out as the friends attack London in an homage to all those great alien invasion movies of the ‘50s. Imbedded in all this chaos, Searle seems to be channeling Rik Mayall, The Young Ones, and other purveyors of ‘80s anarchic British humor. There’s even a little twist in the last act (or chapter), which infuses a little satiric/parodic commentary on the teenage psyche and the influence of mindless video games, adding a nihilistic note to the whole demented affair.

In the ‘80s, growing up in Ireland, my friends and I wrote this type of material all the time. We were in a comedy/musical troop called The Mangled Ferret, and we lived to offend. Reading Random Monster Corporation, I was transported back to my teenage years.

As I mentioned above, this novella reads like it was written by a 14-year-old. But there’s a difference between an actual 14-year-old writing a narrative like this and an adult writing the same. The difference is stylization. Random Monster Corporation’s style is deliberately juvenile and bizarro. Most 14-year-olds cannot write like adults writing like 14-year-olds. But in Searle (and his narrative voice/character), we have a 14-year-old desperate to offend, biting back at the world, mimicking all around him. And that makes sense within the narrative.

Random Monster Corporation is rude, crude, and distasteful—admittedly, not a combination for everyone. But for those us not easily offended, Searle’s novella is a quick and harmless diversion—especially from Joyce.

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