Kevin Sweeney’s bizarro short story Squeegee the Sewermaid starts thusly:
“I was on the toilet throttling a sweetcorn Snickers when a hand reached up and grabbed my cock.”
Things get even more bizarre and horrific from there. I read this story four days ago and my stomach still hasn’t settled into its usual shape, so eating’s been a bit of a challenge. Sweeney’s world is a dystopia of extinct animals and cultural reappropriation and the largest jelly bean factory in the UK, with a sewermaid just plopped in the middle like the proverbial chocolate hot dog in the punchbowl. Hysterically funny (poop jokes always get a laugh), imaginative, and acrid in its social commentary, Squeegee the Sewermaid is the kind of story you’d only read on a lark, but then find yourself glad you did. With English slang as thick as treacle and descriptive power that hits you like a fish tail to the jaw, there’s a lot to recommend it.
And yet, I still kind of want to throw up. Oh my GOD, it’s disgusting. So it may not be for everyone. Sweeney writes well and tells a story that you want to see to the end, despite its deliberate unpleasantness. I don’t get to say that as often as I’d like when it comes to indie fiction, so let that be your guide.