Of the many things I loved about the 1980’s, the music, the styles, the movies, my youth, one thing stands out in a special way. The horror fiction. It was a wonderful time and cool new things were happening all the time. Skipp, Spector, Schow and others ushered in the Splatterpunk era and while it divided fans, I think it was a damned cool approach to writing.
One of the books that came out amid the Splatterpunk rage was Rex Miller’s Slob. It wasn’t really a Splatterpunk novel, but then I don’t think you could easily categorize it in any one genre. This incredible book hit the scene like a pipebomb at a funeral and it shook up a lot of people. Oh, it wasn’t for everyone…there were those that said that ‘after the hype’ it wasn’t all that great. Meaning that they judged it by their expectations rather than the actual book. But no book or author will please everyone. However, those that loved books that defied convention and burned their senses like battery acid were immediate fans.
Slob dealt with a protagonist and an antagonist. The protag was Jack Eichord, a weary detective. The villain was a half-ton killing machine named Daniel Edward Flowers Bunkowski AKA: Chaingang. Bunkowski was trained to kill in the Vietnamese War and lived in the tunnels under the city of Chicago. Eichord, a specialist in serial killers, has the job of his life on his hands in hunting down Chaingang.
Slob resembles a horror novel and a mystery/suspense book, but it is thoroughly unique. Wriiten is a hyperkenetic style, Slob mesmerized readers and most of those that read it considered Rex Miller something truly special.
Miller followed Slob up with three further novels about serial killings that featured Jack Eichord, as well as a novel called Profane Men, which was set in the Vietnam War. In 1990, Miller returned to his most colorful creation, Chaingang, with Slice. Three more books focusing on Chaingang appeared in the early 1990’s: Chaingang, Butcher and Savant. Sadly, Savant was the final book that Rex Miller gave us.
Then there were his short stories, which were often vastly different than his novels. I haven’t read them in years, but some were quiet, atmospheric and oddly beautiful. Why no-one has put them into a collection and published them is beyond me.
Unlike most of the so-called Bizarro writers of today, his books came out through established publishing firms. Working with genuine editors. Trends come and trends go, but great books are always in fashion for discerning readers. Rex Miller broke the rules and did so on his own terms, but his talent was such that he managed to reach millions of readers.
But writing was only one aspect of Rex Miller’s accomplishments. He…
Well, rather than bore you with my limited writing skills, I refer you to here.