I remember when I was in high school, I heard of this book called Naked Lunch. It was by a writer that shared a last name with another writer I was quite fond of. Rumor had it that Naked Lunch was filled to the brim with outrageously perverted sex and violence. Well, being the normal, red-blooded lad that I was, I had to locate a copy. Thank God for the shopping mall. I found a copy of Naked Lunch in a WaldenBooks. I bought it up, earning a strange look from the cashier. Funny that I was buying a book that was far more explicit than the average X -Rated movie I was not able to get in to see.

I eagerly started reading Naked Lunch, but after experiencing some amusement early on, I rapidly grew bored. I tried for a while, but threw in the towel.

Years later, older and supposedly more mature and sophisticated, I attempted to read Naked Lunch again. This time I made it farther in the book, but I still quit long before the end. I felt that I knew that the author was trying to do with the story, but that it wore out its welcome and that a short story would have served his purposes better.

Somewhere along that same time, I began hearing of this writer named Dennis Cooper. I heard that he took transgressive fiction to new heights. Or perhaps depths is a better word. Once again, I thought that I had to read it. Luckily I was able to borrow a copy from the library and I didn't have to pay a cent for his novel, Frisk. For I would have felt cheated. I thought Frisk was dreary, pretentious, and worst of all, DULL.

There was the well-known small press publisher that wrote massively hyped, over-the-top fiction. I won't say who it is, but he had a collection published by Shocklines Press. Once again, I took the bait. And once again I hated it. Most people raved about the stories, but a few, like me, emphatically didn't. This minority was often accused of being prudish.

Well, maybe in some ways I am. Even though I am a fan of the wildest movies and I've read a lot of spectacularly explicit sexual horror fiction. Starting with Philip Josť Farmer's amazing The Image of the Beast.

And then there's Edward Lee. I don't even need to read all of the copycats out there to know the Edward Lee is, was, and always will be The Crowned King of Hardcore Horror Fiction. No one does it like him and I'm sick of people trying to emulate him.

The Lee cult began slowly. I first encountered his work in the novel, Creekers. I thought that this one was unbelievably over the top. I haven't seen nothin'; yet.

Over the top, yes, but Edward Lee is also a first class storyteller. The guy can weave a tale, and he knows character, plot, and story construction like few others do. The guy has chops and this is what sets him apart from the others.

Oh yeah, Edward Lee is a funny son of a bitch, too. For my book-buying dollar, he's the funniest man in horror.

You know about Header, right? What's a Header? If you haven't heard, I'll tell you this much: A Header is a method of revenge by backwoods hillbillies. The method consists of putting a hole through the skull of one that injured your family, and---well, having intercourse with the head.

Surely that is the most depraved, disgusting, perverted, sickening thing imaginable. Even Edward Lee can't top that. Can he?

Oh yeah. He did it shortly after Header was originally published. Header was a novella, but The Bighead is a full blown novel. And it goes far, far beyond what happens in Header.

Now, Edward Lee, the sickest bastard in horror, gives us Header 2. And this time he goes all the way.

Taking elements from predecessor, Header 2 pits an oddly likable brood of inbred misfits against a Mafia mobster and his henchmen. These two wildly different, yet strangely similar, groups of madmen take turns trying to top each other with viciously depraved methods of revenge. And damn it if we don't end up rooting for them. Even (gulp) empathizing and caring about them!

Only Edward Lee could have written Header 2. No one else could put such gleeful mayhem on each uproarious page and keep the story propelling for over 300 pages. The ante ups at each turn and just when you think Lee can't go any further, he does. And does again. And again.

Major props go out to Camelot Books and Gifts for putting Header 2 out in such a lovely edition. They even did a moderately-priced trade hardcover for the non-collecting readers out there. This is the first hardcover I've seen from Camelot and it's as nice an edition as I've seen from any publisher. And best of all, Camelot didn't skimp on the trade edition. When you consider the quality binding, the sewn-in bookmark, the numerous illustrations, and the free Mylar protective sleeve that's included, Header 2 is just about the best deal I've gotten from the small press in ages.

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