Toronto-based author Derek McCormack’s terrifically fun “The Show That Smells” whips by with the speed of a bloodsucking vampire bat. A hodgepodge of hillbillies and classical horror yarn, McCormack weasels in real-life characters like Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, Coco Chanel, the Carter Family and, most astutely, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, in a fictional, phantasmagorical account of bloodlust, passion and a world of creeps. (Fumbling through there is a dying country-music singer and his wife, who, in an effort to save him, sells her soul to the devil. The devil is a fashion designer, of course.) It’s gothic fun from Akashic Books, a vivid and giddily cynical view of Hollywood and high-end culture, so off-center that even Guy Maddin blurbs the book on its cover. “The Show That Smells,” a literary homage to a circus freakshow, features poetics to spare, and its brevity works to its advantage. McCormack plunges the stake right through your heart. (Tom Lynch)
Derek McCormack discusses “The Show That Smells” July 18 at Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln, at 7pm.