Sci-fi author Robert Silverberg defended the novella as “the richest” of all literary forms. With the novella, Silverberg posited, an author can offer more character development and exploration of themes than permitted in a short story while not having to follow the rigid requirements of a full-length novel. Silverberg may be right for the most part, but some authors may benefit from the expansive length of a novel. Among that crowd is up-and-comer KJ Moore. Her novella Monster P*rn is an oddly compelling tale that easily could have surpassed its meager 65 pages. P*rn, a slice of grotesque fiction set in the adult film industry, features two foley artists named Dwain and Mike who meet an amputee p*rn star named Chloe. The actress inspires Mike to create a series of tastefully directed p*rn films with disfigured actors, which is met with approval from Dwaine. The problem? He wants to execute the concept in an edgier fashion. Mike is faced with two choices: stand his ground and risk failure or take the commercial route at the expense of his principles.
Moore’s writing is laced with cynicism and morose humor. She brings to mind Chuck Palahniuk, as both authors share a fascination with taboo subject matter and a fondness for fact-dropping (many of the chapters in P*rn include several sound effect techniques). Perhaps as a nod to Palahniuk, her novella begins in media res. It may feel derivative to some, but she engaged this reader nevertheless. As for her storytelling skills, her ideas have promise but she never fully develops them. I wondered, for instance, what led Mike to make his final decision regarding the direction of his films. There’s also a plot twist that seems too out-of-place. Moore was obviously expecting the reader to have a WTF moment and while I did have such a moment, it was due to
Dark humor, transgressive subject matter, and shaky morals. KJ Moore had the tools for a great story. I was intrigued by the book’s voice and early chapters, but was disappointed in the direction she took her vehicle. Although Monster P*rn does not belong in the horror genre, its sensibilities should appeal to most horror readers. Whether the book satisfies, though, will depend on the individual.
Book Review: Monster P*rn – Author KJ Moore