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It’s the ASURA GIRL giveaway contest!

by nickmamatas

Asura Girl by Otaro Maijo comes out tomorrow, and this week we’re giving away four copies! Asura Girl is one of the strangest books we’ve ever published—a hyperactive thriller with plenty of sex, violence, and everyone’s favorite thing: typographical trickery. (We took extra time to make sure all the unusual fonts and layouts would show up properly on your Kindles, NOOKs, and iPads.)

This time our essay question is an easy one: what’s the wildest novel you’ve ever read? “Wildest” can mean anything: weirdest, raunchiest, most thrilling, most disturbing, most “out there.” You convince us that the book you name is a wild one! Just leave a comment on this blog post—and make it a good one, we’re looking for quality, not just picking at random—and four lucky winners will get a free copy of Asura Girl! We ship anywhere, will read submissions in English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, German, or Greek, and will accept bad poetry as well. Winners announced Friday afternoon!

Let us know what you think!

19 Responses to “It’s the ASURA GIRL giveaway contest!”

  1. Cassan Saliba says:

    The wildest book I’ve ever read is probably Battle Royale. A lot of people say when I tell them the plot, “Oh so it’s the Japanese copy of the Hunger Games.” To which I face palm greatly. Why it is the wildest book, is because the concept of kids killing kids is unheard of in the world. The world forgets that children can kill people too, and this book in a way reminds them that despite age, a human is a human, and under circumstances such as the ones in BR anyone would kill.
    I read this book around two years ago, and it seriously knocked me side ways with its concept. But I think it’s because of its sick twisted plot that I enjoyed it. Some of characters you can connect with, and that’s what makes it so hard to see them die which is a case in any book, but in this one where killing is the main outline, I found myself trying to shut down my feels. And after the second part of the novel I was able to become unfazed by the deaths going on. Which then made me question my own morals.
    So in conclusion Battle Royale is one sick, disturbed, thrilling and outthere novel which I have yet to find a successor too.

  2. Lisa says:

    I think Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant is the wildest book I’ve read recently. The trouble-maker protagonist somehow not only manages to upset the economy of his small ton with a found bag of gold but also has an obsession with getting bit by rabinous dogs and poisonous spiders. And when he leaves his dusty town behind, the reader is suddenly aware that the world is a dystopian future segregated between daytimers and nightimers – the latter of which spends their time in crazy life or death derby races.

    Oh yeah, and not to mention the time travel and incestuous plot to create an ultimate being.

  3. Scott Emerson says:

    When I think “wildest novel ever,” THE BIGHEAD by Edward Lee springs immediately to mind. Whatever literary merit this succulent slice of pulp horror lacks it more than sufficiently makes up for in gleeful, unadulterated excess.

    Amidst an existential crisis, the Bighead (a moniker earned not by the enormous size of his skull) embarks on a philosophical journey to find himself. Said journey involves spilling every bodily fluid imaginable. It may be a challenging book to defend, critically or morally, but that only makes it that more fun. When the protagonist violates a pregnant woman to death and subsequently consumes the fetus, it’s transgressive; when that scene is also laugh-out-loud hilarious, it becomes genius.

  4. Peter Barton says:

    Hands down it’s Welcome to the NHK. You have a protagonist who is incapable of leaving of his tiny apartment and having any sort of human interaction, abusing legal drugs to give himself a high, downloads an entire HDD worth of child porn on the internet, attempts to take perverted photos of elementary school aged girls, infiltrates a church sermon by inhaling helium and wearing a wig, and he barely rises out of his situation at the end, only doing the minimal amount of work to buy food so he can become a hermit again.
    His only “friend” is a creepy otaku who turns him onto child porn, tries to create a terrible pornographic RPG, in which he only manages to finish by doing a bunch of drugs with the protagonist, then unsuccessfully builds a bomb which he originally wanted to detonate a government building, but ultimately sets it off in an empty park while high, which amounted to nothing more than a fire cracker. He ultimately gives up on everything he wanted to do and goes back to his parents farm.
    The protagonist’s source of uplifting is from a suicidal teenage girl who is only using him to make herself feel better. She originally drops out of high school, spies on the protagonist from her aunt’s house, takes part in religious sermons she doesn’t believe in, goes to the hospital for a failed suicide attempt. She and the protagonist save themselves by signing a mutual assured destruction pact, in which if one kills themself, the other will kill themself as well. A terrible tragedy we saw play out with the US and Russia with nuclear missiles, which barely worked due to fear. Not the best way to go about living.
    Ultimately nobody wins in the novel. While it gives the notion that the characters are slightly better off at the end, it’s like instead of having a 3 inch knife stabbing your thigh, it’s a two and a half inch knife. Nobody is a winner and everyone continues to hate themselves.

  5. Angelo Benuzzi says:

    So you ask for anything wild, don’t you? What about Richard K. Morgan “Black Man”? In the US has been published under the title “Thirteen”. This one got it all. It’s a science fiction novel with lots of action, hard boiled narrative, with a great main character you won’t forget easily.

  6. Jim R. says:

    When I was a wee high schooler, I got it into my head that I was “counterculture.” Of course, I had no idea what exactly that entailed, this bring before the Internet and after disco, but I remember hearing the name William S. Burroughs somewhere, which is how I ended up with a copy of Naked Lunch when I was 15. I still remember the unease it caused me, and the pleasure of that unease.

    That had a lasting effect.

    As did Principia Discordia, Diary of a Dopefiend, and all the other books I could find that weren’t on the school’svreading list.

  7. Nathan F says:

    If wildest can mean most disturbing, then the wildest book I’ve ever read is “Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy” by Doris Sanford. It’s about a little girl who refuses to eat her chicken, which leads her parents to realize that something is very wrong with her. It is quickly revealed that her day care center is run by Satanists who make her take part in evil, occult ceremonies.

    As disturbing as the story is, the really disturbing thing is that it’s a children’s book. IT was written in the 1980’s (at the height of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic) and was designed for parents and other authority figures to use to help children “remember” that the were the victims of such abuse. The fact that the book was probably used to convince children that they were the victims of abuse that never really happened is far more disturbing than any story. Possibly even more disturbing is the fact that even today some people still believe that widespread SRA is real despite the complete lack of evidence and general ridiculousness of the claims.

  8. Eric v says:

    I guess for me it’s geek love. So freaking weird (in an awesome way). A circus couple does all these different drug cocktails to create their own circus freaks, and succeeds. It’s been awhile since I read it, but I definitely finished it, and reread it a few times.

  9. Mathieu G says:

    The wildest book I ever read was La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes, by Gaétan Soucy. That book is so good that it’s impossible to put it down. It’s a short novel that that’s centered on the aftermath of the suicide of a widowed father. It’s told from the point of view of one of his children, who has lived a very “sheltered” life.

    It’s very disturbing because of the physical and psychological violence present in the book. My girlfriend recommended it to me and it was so fucked up I almost didn’t want to talk about it with her afterwards. I don’t want to spoil it because I see it was translated in English and a couple of other languages. It’s the kind of book where a lot of the pleasure comes from discovering what’s wrong with these people and what’s happening. La petite fille… definitely kept me awake when I finished it. Just writing this, I would not be surprised if I had nightmares about the “Juste Châtiment” (the fair punishment).

  10. Joe says:

    Probably “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson. I always felt like cyberpunk was wild enough, but the post cyberpunk world this book portrays takes it a step further. Adaptive artificial intelligence and nanotechnology that has progressed the level of magic are supported by bizarre tribes trying to cope with the world they’ve built.

    Also, drummers.

  11. Andrew H. says:

    The Deadly Percheron by Jonathan Franklin Bardin. Written in the 1940’s this short novel of murder, stolen identity, lost time, leprechauns and of course, the titular horse, changed the way I read and think about what’s possible within the structure of a story in ways nothing I read before, or even after has. For me personally, when I think about “mind f*ck” literature I believe it all starts here. Probably tame by today’s standards its nonetheless a pretty wild ride.

  12. Brandon P. says:

    I’ve read quite a few ‘wild’ novels in my day. Many would immediately go to someone like…say….William S. Burroughs, whose works were an eccentric combination of avant-garde, transgressive literature, science fiction, and the ‘literature as jazz’ approach that his contemporary Jack Kerouac would use. I’d also say the stories of Jorge Luis Borges, whose works often blended and morphed the fabric of reality by using the technique of faux bibliographies and encyclopedic entries for his stories.

    But if I was to point out the singe, wildest book I’ve ever read in my lifetime, then I can confidently point to one: “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. Trying to describe this novel to someone who has never read it is extremely difficult, because it’s really one of those books that one must experience to truly comprehend it. It’s essentially like a ‘found manuscript’ story, that’s found by some random tattoo artist who expresses his thoughts and feelings as we read the manuscript. The page layouts, format and structure are extremely unorthodox, and symbolic in its own way. It’s a form of ‘ergodic’ literature, which is a form of literature that requires active effort by the reader to comprehend. The reader cannot just read it passively, but must traverse the novel itself like scenic hike or a mysterious attic.

    Story-wise, it is about an LA tattoo artist who discovers a manuscript in the apartment he’s recently moved into. The manuscript itself is an academic study for a documentary film entitled “The Navidson Record”. This film may or may not exist, as our protagonist has significant trouble trying to find evidence of it. The film itself is about the Navidson family and their experience with their house, which seems to be morphing and changing every single day. It forms new rooms, staircases suddenly appear and disappear, and some hallways seem to go on forever.

    It’s a fairly unnerving tale, made even more unnerving by the novel’s format. The novel is arranged in an extremely unusual way. Every perspective in the novel has it’s own font and color, and multiple perspectives can be read on a single page. Furthermore, the lines themselves are arranged in unusual, unorthodox fashions. One perspective may be printed entirely down the side of the page, whereas anothe perspective may be arranged in a perfect square in the lower left-or-right corner. Some pages only have a single word. Some pages may have nothing but images of various documents haphazardly arranged. Some pages are collages of Polaroids and newspaper clippings. Even E.E. Cummings at his most avant-garde couldn’t equal this.

    All of this has the effect of creating a sense of creeping unreality in the reader. Since you are not just a passive reader, but are actively involved in the experience, you feel as if you’re right in the middle of some strange, vague nightmare. The novel is no longer just a novel, it’s a portal between your world and the complex layers of reality and unreality that inhabits this novel.

    So…yeah. That’s basically the ‘wildest’ book I’ve ever read. “House of Leaves”. It’s not just a novel, it’s the fevered dreams of a madman. YOUR fevered dreams.

  13. Ben B. says:

    I’ve read plenty of wild books in my time. Some of which have even been published by you guys! For example: Practically everything by Project Itoh comes to mind. And the delicious, epic strangeness that is “Belka, Why Don’t You Bark?”

    But the wildest book I’ve ever read? That would have to be not one, but three books in one volume. The Dead Trilogy, by Richard Calder. The three books that comprise the volume are “Dead Girls”, “Dead Boys” and “Dead Things”. They chronicle a gender war that spans different time lines and states of mind. They’re kind of hard to summarize succinctly, but, well, here goes.

    The first book, set in a dystopian future, tells the story of one Ignatz Von Zwakh and his lady love Primavera. Their world is not entirely pleasant. Mankind is facing slow and steady extinction at the hands of a cybernetic “Doll” virus that is produced within the matrices of a certain type of automata. These automata, referred to as “Lilim” are ash-blonde little girls with vampire fangs. Masters of seduction, any man whom they bite can afterwards only produce female offspring who then become Lilim themselves when they hit puberty.

    A movement known as “The Human Front” takes hold of England in the wake of this and begins corralling and publicly executing (Via womb-piercing. Nice, right?) all known Lilim. Iggy and Primavera happen to be in highschool and Primavera is showing signs of turning. What’s a pair of young lovers to do? Why, run off to Thailand and moonlight as hitmen!

    The book opens with the pair of them being strong-armed by the US government into helping them track down Titania, the leader of the Lilim. From there they end up on a blood-stained road trip where they discover the origins of the doll plague (The creator of it, Doctor Toxicophilous, his subconscious reached out and psychically evoked his sexual fetishism with regards to fairy-tales and young girls and bam, infected nanomachines and doll plague), kill a buncha people, have violent weird sex (There’s a chapter named “Shopping and f*cking” wherein it’s revealed that Primavera has teeth down…well, down THERE).

    All the while the book alternates between chapters concerning the above and showing their past, how Iggy & Primavera’s relationship developed prior to their current predicament.

    And then “Dead Boys” rolls around, involving time travel via injecting pickled womb-juice into one’s veins, a full-blown gender war aeons into the future, talking rifles and cars and oodles of cannibalism. I don’t even know where to begin with “Dead Things” except to say that shit gets meta.

    All in all, these books set the bar for “strangeness” almost impossibly high for me. I tend to reread them at least once a year, just to immerse my headspace within it’s neon-green waters.

  14. bednorz says:

    I thought for a while on which book that I’ve read would be the wildest and I guess “Pigmy” by Chuck Palahniuk deserves special recognition.

    To summarize it, it’s a story of a kid from an unnamed totalitarian country who is sent to the United States as a participant of student exchange, sort of. The novel gives you hints on which country that might be, but in the end it’s just a fictional creation put together with elements from all kinds of dictatorships from history. His task is to infiltrate the country and perform some sabotage, but he ends up giving up his evil plans, at least to some extent.

    This probably sounds weird enough, but that’s only the beginning. “Pigmy”‘s most outstanding feature is… it’s written in Engrish. The main character comes from a distant country, but his idiolect’s weirdness comes not only from him being a foreigner, but also it’s saturated with pompous, newspeak-like vocabulary you would expect from a Communist Party pamphlet. The entire novel is written this way, in first person.

    At a certain point while reading the novel, I noticed an irregularity in the main character’s speech – he once called an object a word different from the word he would use before, and this made me think: “Is his idiolect changing?” Then, a mindblowing idea came to my mind: with time, the MC’s Engrish will slowly be improving and in the end it’ll turn into regular English. Wow! “This is avantgarde!” – I thought, and continued reading, expecting wonders. Sadly, after a while I realized that it’s not what I thought it would be. The irregularity proved to be a simple error and MC continued speaking his totalitarian Engrish to the very end.

    That was a bit of a disappointment, but in the end reading “Pigmy” was still a joy, as is the case with all novels by Palahniuk. I guess that qualifies as “wild”.

  15. Natalya says:

    The wildest book I have read is “Splat the Cat and a duck with no quack”. I always thought that to create the ultimate literature of absurd, you must be unaware of how absurd your work is. There is a psychiatric disorder which manifests itself in the patient talking, or writing, in phrases that are perfectly grammatically correct, but make no sense at all. Some of these people even managed to publish books. I knew somebody who was fascinated with two thick books whose author suffered from this disorder. You could read both books without finding a single sentence that made sense. I can’t claim that these were the wildest book I ever read because I never read them, I felt like I was going insane after reading few sentences. Well, “Splat the Cat” takes this linguistic peculiarity and transfers it to the plot. Splat the Cat falls from the bike and finds a duck who carries a book , and is silent, and, frankly, overall catatonic. I imagine that book as one of the books written by an insane person mentioned above. Poor duck must have read it. Not only it became catatonic, but the book disrupted any possibility of meaning and sense in the world itself. So the cat tries to do several things to wake up the duck, absurd and somewhat more sadistic as they progress. It backfires, thus, one of the cat’s friends tries to make a face at the duck and remains stuck with this face forever. Eventually, the duck is taken to a wise woman, who is also the cat’s teacher. The woman plays a tune, and the duck suddenly starts dancing. I imagine that as scary zombie dance. Then the wise woman points at the optometrist’s table, but the duck remains catatonic. The wise woman puts her eyeglasses on duck’s beak, at which point the duck opens the book it carries and starts screaming; “Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”. This book is a book for small children and must actually correlate with the absurdity of the world they exist in. For adults, I offer another reading. Since the book starts with a violent crash of the cat on a bike, I think the events in the book are the last disjointed firings of the dying cat’s brain.

  16. Natalya says:

    Or, otherwise, it’s either the cat’s or a duck’s trip to the land of the dead. Steven King has a scene where his protagonist looks under his bed and finds his recently dead wife there. Because the wife crossed over to the world completely unlike ours, her actions and words do not make sense, and she appears insane, though not violent.

  17. Ken says:

    “Welcome to the NHK” immediately comes to mind.

    For me, this book was significant because I was going through this intensively doubtful phase in my young twenties. Everything was falling apart for me; lost my loan for college, couldn’t manage to hold a job, started drinking excessively, and ultimately ended up selling just about everything I own just so I could afford to keep a roof over my head. I had nothing but my doubt and stress, and yet, for whatever reason, these terrible feelings eventually became comfortable for me— I guess because I’d spent so much time with them I ‘understood’ them in some warped way— and eventually I just stopped doing everything. I’d wake up, drink, be sad over myself, and eventually sleep. I was going nowhere, had went nowhere for nearly 2 full years, and then, and then I came across Welcome to the NHK.

    ‘Welcome to the NHK’ was my own story, but instead of some agoraphobic dropout from New Jersey it was about a hikkikomori dropout from Japan. And instead of simply boozing away the day he did hallucinogenic drugs. But other than that, the stories were essentially the same, and as I was reading this story I had this very vivid shattering of my own delusional lifestyle. It was just too bizarre— it was all so very much alike, and at the same time it was exactly what I needed to understand how ridiculous it was that I was propelling myself further into a depressed and lonely life. I read the story over and over, and with each reading I grasped just that little bit more how unnecessary it is to rely on self-deprecation for importance— it works, but only in so far as making the day pass. But that same function can be fulfilled with everything that NHK’s character was rejecting; the pursuit of talent, of interest, of confidence. Things that, when you try for them, provide you benefits far more exciting and proud than having simply vanquished another 24 hours into the past.

    It was wild— Welcome to the NHK was the only book purchase I’d made since having lost my loan for school two years prior, and it turned out to be the very book I needed. I got everything together, finished school, regained my confidence, and, something I find most important in all of this, restored my love for reading.

  18. jvcar says:

    The wildest novel I’ve read was Welcome to the NHK. The protagonist is a hikikomori. He is asocial and becomes paranoid; he goes as far as thinking there’s a conspiracy and dives into having a lolita complex. A whole lot of other crazy stuff happens.

    But the wildest, most disturbing thing about this novel is the author’s afterwords.

    The author was anxious yet optimistic in writing his novel. He used his own experiences as a hikikomori to shape the novel. The author was looking forward to continuing his work and promised us that he will continue to do his best. But the novel comes with a second afterward written 4 years after the first. In the second afterward, the author apologies for not keeping his promise. He confesses that he has become a NEET. He blames the now “disease” in his brain for his lack of writing as well as the trauma he now feels when he thinks about his novel. Although he appears to have a disdain for novel, he still encourages us to read it and is thankful for the readership.

    Art imitates life. Welcome to the NHK is a man’s life being told to us in story form. He has opened up a side of his life most would not. And with it, he has provided insight into the lives of the strange and reclusive hikikomori. After reading the afterwords I felt disturbed by what Tatsuhiko Takimoto lived through to be able to write his novel, but I found myself wanting more.

  19. NF says:

    What’s a wild book? A wild book is the one that goes straight for your throat and stays there long after the last page was turned.
    Hygiene and the Assassin by Amelie Nothomb doesn’t waste any time on pretense and commonplaces.
    Enter Monsieur Tach, a famous writer – “Nobel Prize for literature, not Nobel Peace Prize, thank God.” He is ugly inside out and about to die. He knows something about ethics in gaming journalism. That is that journalists are fair game. Therefore journalists leave his apartment in tears. Then Mademoiselle Nina comes for an interview. Mademoiselle Nina is a superior reader. She deconstructed all Monsieur Tach’s books, especially the one called Hygiene and the Assassin. Very soon Monsieur Tach finds himself confessing of murder and it looks like it might be his turn to cry. For a while we’re led to believe that justice prevails, because that’s what justice does, right? But then the tables are turned again. Or perhaps Mademoiselle Nina had lost ages ago…
    There is a moral in this story.
    You read books at your own risk. Some books may read you back. The wildest ones write you back.

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