Books that appear to be on a floating shelf

Almost a book review: Sh@thead

I stumbled upon this lovely little novella via Twitter. It really made my day. The first thing that caught my eye was the picture on the cover, which appears to be a brain after a helmet-less bike accident or a chunk of raw chopped meat:

Cover of the book "Shithead."

Bloodhead would be a more apt title, don’t you think?

Amazon’s description of this $2.99 wonder:

Val Tenterhosen returns with another disgusting collection of dark stories and broken pieces of language. With less of a focus on short bursts of thoughts, and more focus on fractured narrative, Val’s second book continues to push the boundaries of English, of taste, and of rationality. All are invited, few are expected.

Intriguing. No, really, it is. “Short bursts of thought” and pushing the boundaries of rationality is many things–but definitely not boring. So I skipped down to the comment section, where I found this inviting tidbit accompanied by two lonely stars:

I did manage it all the way to the end and my first thought was ” What, did he just go off of his meds and decide to write down a series of nonsensical, gross and disgusting hallucinations?”

And this comment from Edinburgh Roro, who gave the book two out of five stars:

Disclaimer: I read the first four stories only. Maybe it gets better further in. You don’t have to eat an entire pot of soup to know when it’s burnt, though.

By far the funniest was from someone named Derrick Paige:

Full disclosure: this book is dedicated to me. Or actually to D. Errick P. Aige rather. Not sure why he chose to write my name as such. Perhaps he was concerned that actually writing out my name would summon me. I say, NAY! my friends. Wherever the sanctity of literature is threatened, I’ll be there.

Let’s continue with Val Tenterhosen’s new “book”. His sophomore attempt at literary prowess is slightly longer than his debut, however his naming convention is still juvenile as is pretty much all of the content.

I do feel that Val’s writing has improved but anytime you’ve settled into the prose and the story starts to take you somewhere you get jerked out of the immersion by oddly name characters (Hennessey A. B. Moneybags, King Giblet of the Seven Goblets), flashy phrases (adroitly caterwaulted, obscene voluminousness) or unbelievable twists. And that’s just the first story. It becomes obvious, as it was in his earlier work, that Val’s primary interest is in trying to startle you or gross you out. It could work, if Val would get out of the way, but he doesn’t. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Reading this I felt like the author was always there, yelling at me, “I EFFING WROTE THIS.” Good for you, but if you want me to read it, shut up. …

… There are “stories” that read more like stream-of-consciousness diary entries. A girl licked his bikeseat. Or he decided he was worthless and killed himself. He rambles, and then suddenly crosses over an idea–and yes lets pursue that idea, finally something worth writing about–but wait, nope totally wrong, he’s going to do something else, and yeah, really he has no idea what he’s doing and what you’re reading is obviously a crap first draft that’s been spellchecked. The “plot” left as it was. Absent.

After reading and re-reading his work I get the distinct feeling that Val Tenterhosen doesn’t take himself seriously as a writer. And if he doesn’t, neither should you.

And, sure enough, there it was:

Screenshot of the dedication page of the book "Shithead" on Amazon.

This book had already tickled my funny bone more than many other better reviewed works. Isn’t the point of literature to be entertaining? Here’s the publication page:

Screenshot from the publication page of "Shithead" on

I don’t think Tenterhosen has to worry about plagiarism, though one commenter refers to him as, “A writing Mozart. Potty-mouthed, articulate, talented.” But is he? If you’re brave enough, here’s a longer sample of Shithead. Hell, you could even buy the book. I’m considering it.




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