John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow
Paperback, 336 pages, $7.99
Review by Sheila Merritt
To call John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow an irreverent duo is a major understatement. These guys push horror and humor to the extreme in Jake’s Wake. It is a revolting riot; a rambunctious, raunchy romp. This is definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended. The social satire is a hoot, and there is a glee in the graphic gore that, while not tempering the over the top violence, does make it very readable. This is a perverse and twisted tale that is immensely enjoyable for its sheer moxie. It elicits shocks and smiles simultaneously.
The story is about an immoral, physically abusive televangelist known as Pastor Jake. Jake is murdered while engaged in frenzied sexual activity; it’s the ultimate coitus interruptus. But it is hard to keep a bad man down, and Jake resurrects at his memorial service, wreaking havoc and leaking embalming fluid. Some of his organs are not functioning as they should, but the only one Jake really cares about is operating just fine. He comes back to do further damage to the women he injured in his life, and to turn the Christian concept of resurrection into a nun’s nightmare. Along the way, there are ruminations and ramblings about religion in general. It is all outrageous; and often hysterically, heretically humorous.
Skipp and Goodfellow, to their credit, imbue their motley cast of characters with histories, and quirky insights. The authors do not sacrifice characterization for the sake of writing a shocker. Attention is paid to details of personality; implausibility of story be damned. This requires a delicate balance, which is ironic, since the book itself is the opposite of delicate.
Jake’s Wake will appeal to fans of the movie The Re-Animator, or any film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Its pushy, provocative, pulsating prose provides jolts and jitters punctuated by lots of laughs. As a hybrid of humor and horror, this novel delivers the goods.