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Book Review: The Violators by Vincenzo Bilof

“Bilof is the hitman to modern literary dogma!”

violWhat is the difference between a sociopath and an artist? When do those lines become blurred? These are among the many questions asked in Vincenzo Bilof’s latest novel, The Violators.

Alan – a young writer full of self-doubt – finds himself accepted into a seemingly prestigious college writing class after submitting a philosophical and controversial essay. Already struggling with social anxiety, he enters a world far more frightening than anything he could’ve ever imagined, a world filled with strangely familiar faces: the villain from a certain 90s cartoon about teenage mutant ninja reptiles, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time whose last name is a state, the dreamy light-eyed actor from the Hangover movies, a bearded overweight gamer who’s aspiring to be a Bizarro author, an objectified-and-loving-it “submissive” in pigtails, and a dark rebellious, literary snob chick. The characters are reminiscent of The Breakfast Club if each were a murdering cannibalistic psychopath, full of angst and committing horrible atrocities in the name of art.

Bilof’s The Violators is one of the most accurately titled books published in recent memory. This book not only violates you with its blatantly abhorrent content, but the writing itself violates every writing rule you’ve ever been taught by your English Literature professor, editor, Creative Writing instructor. The premise of the book is to explore the idea of how far one will go for the sake of creating something new. If you continue pushing and pushing the boundaries, eventually, nothing is new and we become desensitized to things that were once considered extreme. What was once considered obscene is now passé. Raping white women is boring. Standard cannibalism – been there done, that, same old, same old.

The first half of the book is gory; it’s best read on an empty stomach. We’re introduced to brains in blenders, torsos being screwed, a “submissive” ingesting phlegm and getting off on it. It was obvious Bilof went into this with a “balls-to-the-wall-no-holds-barred” approach and a lot of the violence and gore were for simple shock-value and nothing more. But for this story, this approach makes sense. That queasy, nauseating feeling we experience after reading something intense, or watching an underground torture-porn film, our lasagna or half of a cold meatball sandwich trying to resurface, the taste of stale garlic and stomach acid – that is the exact effect Bilof intended to induce. Once we get rolling, though, the newness of the shock and brutality wears off and the simple storyline begins to scream a little more loudly. It’s not the excessive and gratuitous sex or redundant, disgusting gore we found frightening – because, again, that bridge is crossed by the midway point – it is the complete and utter detachment the sociopathic characters feel when committing these atrocities, absolutely void of empathy with no fear of consequence or remorse.

Bilof’s writing style is straightforward, but not straightforward in the ways you might think. The words seem to have been typed exactly how they were spewed from his brain. Grammatically correct or not. Linear or not. Readers may struggle getting through certain parts as Bilof breaks the usually forbidden Fourth Wall. There is experimentation in the formatting that incorporates many things I haven’t seen done prior in a novel. There are strangely-phrased, nonsensical chapter titles, entire paragraphs crammed and jumbled together – every space between words removed for effect, forcing you to read more rapidly – all designed to keep you on your toes. There are moments where you won’t realize who was speaking or whose POV was being written. But honestly, this confusion fits this story and characters; we can’t see it any other way. Breaking the conventions of the Fourth Wall allows Bilof to mention many names in the Indie Press world. He examines real issues faced in Indie publishing as well as modern literature in general, head on, almost confrontationally.

For the same reasons we love this book, we’re sure just as many people will hate it. The Violators is a grotesque, shocking, strange, sometimes hard-to-comprehend, irregularly written, disgusting book with more sex, cannibalism, degradation, and humiliation than the normal human being can withstand. It leaves you confused and desensitized, having raised the shock bar practically out of reach for any of its successors. If you’re a writer or just a kid from the late-eighties, you’ll appreciate the pop-culture references and satirical clichés thrown in throughout, and while the horror assaults your senses, you can rest assured knowing it’s only a story. Bilof takes those tropes and frequently-used clichés and throws them under the bus where they are demolished, desecrated on, and destroyed. No writer or publisher or literary giant is safe. Breaking down boundaries, and the very elusive Fourth Wall, has never been so degrading or fun. Bilof is the hitman to modern literary dogma and The Violators is his vehicle of destruction.

MATT MICHELI

Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
Kindle Edition (208pp)
Release Date: 1 March 2016

If you enjoyed our review and want to read The Violators by Vincenzo Bilof, please consider clicking through to our Amazon Affiliate links. If you do you’ll help keep the This Is Horror ship afloat with some very welcome remuneration.

Buy The Violators (US)
Buy The Violators (UK)

 

Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing

Kindle Edition (208pp)

Release Date:  1 March 2016

 

If you enjoyed our review and want to read The Violators by Vincenzo Bilof, please consider clicking through to our Amazon Affiliate links. If you do you’ll help keep the This Is Horror ship afloat with some very welcome remuneration.

 

Buy The Violators (US)

Buy The Violators (UK)


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