On first glance, one may mistake Asprey’s newest addition in the Samizdat range as a retro 45rpm vinyl. However, it’s his latest chapbook, featuring an A side and B side story, described as light-hearted crime fiction, featuring the short stories Chick Lit (a deceptive title of a story that is not of the chick lit genre), previously published online at Over My Dead Body, and his What’s inside the Bag?, which as far as I am aware has never been published before. What’s Inside the Bag? follows the account of bickering couple Leroy, an unpleasant yet amorous man well-versed in fat-chick etiquette, and Sally, his long-suffering, overweight girlfriend, both of whom, after a frantic and orange dust-filled entry into town in a Nissan Sentra, come into the possession of a mysterious bag. The story coincides with another parallel plot in both a humorous though distressing manner involving a couple of crooks with a 9mm pistol in a Volkswagen LT van.
Chick Lit, set in the colourful city of Portugal, focuses on a bank robbery in Little Portugal, amidst a scene of chickens shops, construction workers and fragrant coffee. Asprey fuses music with chicken, inventing a chicken crematorium by the name of Frango Reinhardt– a play on words with famed jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (one assumes). Asprey writes graphic sentences with vivid descriptions: “Their chicken burgers ooze mayonnaise the colour of dental plaque,” and “[her knees] looked like two peeled mangos, the skin hanging off the caps by little threads of flesh.” The tale is a playful, descriptive ‘whodunnit’ while also being a rather psychogeographic mapping of Little Portugal.
As Asprey describes, these works are indeed light-hearted in the sense that they aren’t gritty and dark but nevertheless have their fair share of tawdry characters and sexual innuendo. The cover itself is something to love, characteristic of tattered vinyl and cheap pulp that nicely mirrors the scenarios in both stories. Well worth a read.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon.