If Martha Stewart needs advice on removing those pesky bloodstains from the carpet, she finally knows whom to call. But she might want to call ahead and bring along a little extra muscle. In Dying, a satire of the pop-culture phenomenon, Living magazine, Michael Arnzen turns Stewart’s cheery perfectionism into something almost as horrible…
“As one might hope, Dying whipsaws the reader from giggling to guffawing to cringing, often all on the same page. The thin volume employs 16 sections to offer the sorts of stylish homemaking tips that might have been practiced by the family in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre if only those worthies had sprung from an upscale background.” –Ed Bryant, Locus Magazine
“As always, Arnzen’s wordplay and off-the-wall concepts entertain. From sharpening knitting needles to formal table settings, blood patterns in your carpet to curious dessert tips, Dying covers all the basics every killer—or fan of dark literature—could ever want to know. My only complaint would be that it’s all over with too soon, but luckily the author has many other titles to feed from when the bloodlust sets in.” — Gary West, The Dream People
“The title of horror author Michael Arnzen’s short collection of verses says it all. Each brief poem contains Martha Stewart-like tips for killing, cleaning up after murder, or disposing of the evidence. Most of the poems end with a sick twist that make the satire laugh-out-loud funny….Dying is a quick must read for fans of dark comedy (whether they love or despise poetry). But beware: these verses are truly sick — and truly addictive.” –Bookloons
“The poem is uncanny in its bland inability to cover over the horror of our physical bodies…this theme, the uncanny return of the body in all its messy ‘bodiness’ against the ineffective mediation of words, of culture, of technology, of all idealizations that move us toward abstraction and away from our smelly, gurgling selves, is characteristic of Arnzen’s work…this is the kind of horror those in the grip of the promise of new technology and its seeming power and mastery over the world needs to hear.” –Dr. David Sandner, Dissections journal
“It’s hilarious…Arnzen’s absolutely deadpan lampooning of Martha Stewart’s prose style…is so spot-on it’s almost frightening. And the more I thought about it, the funnier it got. I went from thinking ‘this is okay, I’d read it again’ to ‘this is a work of minor brilliance…'” — Robert Beveridge, Popcorn for Breakfast
Here’s one of the “tips” from Dying — a very brief excerpt from a very brief chapbook:
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
And it’s all small stuff:
eardrums, thumbnails, kidneys,
elbow nuggets, toe knuckles, eyeballs.
Let them go.
Dying (With No Apologies to Martha Stewart) by Michael A. Arnzen
Publisher: Tachyon Publications, 2003
Chapbook. Saddle-stapled; linen cardstock, 2-color cover. 20pp.
Out of Print