THE ATROCITY SHOP
Kurt von Trojan
Altair Publishing Australia / 172 pages / 1998
With some books, you can just read the synopsis on the cover and know: here comes Trouble. The Atrocity Shop is one of those books. It’s also one of those books that encourages me to hire someone to open my mail for a while. This is another equal opportunity insulter, guaranteed to piss off just about every segment of society.
Repeat after me: It’s just a book and books can’t corrupt me. Relax.
Let us welcome to the world Mr. Bonus Adulator. He’s new. Around here, that is. Or maybe he’s been here a while. Or, it could be that he’s brand, spanking new. He’s kind of what you make of him. Is that a good enough description? I thought not.
Bonus appears first in a miserable garret, but that is just the beginning. Soon, he finds himself honest work. Pseudo-honest work. Where else would Bonus turn up, but as the driving force of The Atrocity Shop, a charming, out-of-the-way place where anyone can pop in to purchase the best in, well, atrocities. Films, photos, whatever a consumer might wish, on the subject of cruelty and suffering and appalling sites. Hitler’s and Stalin’s output is much in demand at the moment. Regular customers of the store include the movers-and-shakers, the power brokers of America, who find just what they’re looking for in the worst humans can inflict on each other.
Repulsive? Yes, but it’s all part of Bonus’ plan. So are the shadowy, deformed figures gathering in secret, waiting for a leader. And nothing and no one can be permitted to interfere with the plan.
It’s not as confusing as it sounds. It’s just confusing enough to keep you paying strict attention.
Now. All that said, I hope I have scared off only the most delicate flowers, because this is one shocker you should definitely read. Scandalous and blasphemous it may be, but the real shock comes in the knowledge that The Atrocity Shop was written some twenty years ago. Still dead on. Don’t we ever change? Couldn’t we at least get a little bit better?
Von Trojan knows people far too well. He knows society even more intimately. Neither one gets any slack in this nasty little parable. Expect bare knuckle social commentary, jagged shrapnel cereal without the sugar coating. You don’t need it; you are adults now, and you can take it.
Did I mention that it would be a good idea to be a… ahem… responsible adult to enjoy the peculiar pleasures of The Atrocity Shop? A kiddy book, it isn’t. A young adult, it isn’t. This is grown-up fare.
Now, just by saying that I’ve probably ensured that every preteen and teen will rush out to try and find a copy of The Atrocity Shop, haven’t I? That’s all right It deserves to sell lots of copies and they probably won’t get that much out of it.
But you will.