Pairs Well With: an ice cold mug of rusted Philips head wood screws. Down this hearty suggestion while listening to The Best of Adolf Hitler’s Motivational Speeches and you’ll realize that even these painful pairs are still more enjoyable than this gobshite.

Genre: Gore/Splatter Porn
Author: Eric LaRocca
Rating: 0 Out Of 5 Whiskey Shots (yes, you read that correctly. This book isn’t deserving of any shots).

Synopsis: A pair of lesbians communicate over Instant Messaging and e-mail in the year 2000, initially about selling an antique apple peeler for $250 (no… it doesn’t make sense), and then end up in a Slave/Master “relationship” that… You know what? There really isn’t any coherent synopsis with this book.

Overall Impression: I’m done reading modern fiction. I kid you not. I’m absolutely done. Lately, I’ve been making a concentrated effort to read contemporary writers. I’ve read the obnoxious and poorly written works of Josh Malerman; I’ve suffered through the awkwardly unfinished and ill conceived work of A.J. Hackwith; and I’ve even read the oft lauded pile of fetid pig shit that was Homicide in Hardcover. I’ve read all of these, and many many more, and I can now comfortably say that this book tops them all and has destroyed my desire to read the works of my peers and contemporaries.

All of these books are loved and praised ad nauseum, and ALL of them are poorly written and completely juvenile in their execution. There is nothing praise worthy about them.

And yet…

All of social media, all of these “50 scariest books ever written” lists, all of these BookTok reading threads will undoubtedly say that the book I just finished reading—the titular Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke—is one of the most disturbing and scary books written this year.

But it’s not.

Not in anyway, shape, or form.

It is horribly written, and has the feel of being composed by a teenager trying to gross out his friends (in other words, another Chuck Palahniuk, like the world needed to suffer through another one of those). But this may be the only place you’ll hear this POV. Because the rest of the clearly illiterate readership out there seems to worship this story as “edgy”.

The Cheers: None. Even the page formatting, cover, title font, and horrifically designed book publisher logo (this title brought to you by the internationally acclaimed Weird Punk Books), all have the feel of a first time, self-published author. There is nothing good about this book, its author, or the publisher.

The Hangover: Everything about this book sucks.

The concept of becoming obsessed to the point of sadomasochism isn’t a new idea, but it can be interesting. LaRocca obviously has no inkling as to how to pull of this complicated deterioration of a relationship, as is made most evident by the fact that two strangers, who only ever communicate sporadically over e-mail and IM, become violently obsessed with one another over the course of 3 GODDAMN MONTHS.

Yes. You read that correctly.

Please think back to any of you past relationships and tell me which one of them were you so invested in that you were prepared to mutilate animals, get fired from your job (apparently, in this book, you can get fired from your job for wearing a red dress… Cause… Fuck it, I guess), hand over all of your financial control in your life to a stranger who admits to wanting to kill you, convince yourself to get a parasite, and then cut out your eyes, all in the span of 90 days? And if any of this was the case, did you do it for someone you never met on the other side of a computer screen?

This book is absolutely horrendous. The writer’s prose is so clearly juvenile that he doesn’t understand the nuance or methodology in writing in vernacular. Every phrase is uber precise, over embellished with imagery and simile, and no amount of exposition (whether implicit or explicit) is given to understand these two paper thin characters.

Oh! And the gory parts? Completely unmoving. You can read them and roll your eyes, because there is nothing in this book that makes you care about what is happening. Babies get crucified by teenagers. Who the fuck cares? A crazy wife hides a needle in an apple to hurt her husband and get him to allow her to buy an apple peeler (yes… this story is so stupid that apparently wives weren’t allowed to buy apple peelers…), and I didn’t give a shit. Salamanders get crushed under rocks. Yawn.

I’m not sure who told Eric LaRocca he was gifted at writing, or who convinced him that he should get this published, but to those individuals I say, “Shame on you.” LaRocca is just another one of those out of tune, embarrassing singers from American Idol who look like fools and only gain celebrity through self-shame.

Corking the Bottle: Avoid this book at all costs. If you are interested in body horror/splatter porn, I’d highly suggest something written by Ryu Murakami (like Piercing), or Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. But do not read this garbage. Do not offer financial incentive for publishers to continue to publish underwritten tripe, when more talented writers are struggling everyday to have their voices be heard.

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Spoke Last is this year’s first zero shot story, and is in fact the first zero shot story DPW has ever reviewed. And honestly… This reviewer is tired of reading overhyped trash. I think, for the time being, I’m going back to good books…

If you want more Drunken Book Reviews, check out some of these!

Drunken Book Review: The Hike

From the author of The Postmortal, a fantasy saga unlike any you’ve read before, weaving elements of folk tale and video game into a riveting, unforgettable adventure.

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