REVIEW Bowling Your Way Through the Blue-Plate Apocalypse: The Leather Cannon by Barry Nishizawa

I would never insult someone by reviewing his book, but writing like this must be discussed:

You fuck a lot of women up the arse?



It’s not really. It’s not as good as the other way but things got out of hand and I kind of
went on a spree. — from The Leather Cannon, page 18

In style and story The Leather Cannon strikes one as some variety of “grit lit” Southern fiction but where cricket isn’t a bug and where the characters use non-Southernisms like “arse” and “bitumen.” This could lead one to believe the actual setting is elsewhere: Antartica or the Aleutian Islands or maybe even Antigua, the Antilles, or Austria.

Whatever you’d call it and wherever it happens, it feels like something new, and it works. There is laughter here that comes with a price tag; great gags that also hurt. A kind of picaresque in the style of Thomas McGuane or Jim Harrison but with even more hell to pay than usual and perhaps a tad more heavy, but that tension and tragedy– enlivened by and understood with humor–is human. Besides, we all know someone who needs to take a cricket ball in the teeth every now and again. We meet him in the mirror.

So yes, there is doom here but it’s funny. As protagonist Bill’s daily blue plate special apocalypses build to ever-larger ones, it becomes increasingly clear why leather cannon is such an apt metaphor, intentional or not. Things fall apart. One laughs because one must. Imagine your favorite Three Stooges sketch winding down except this time as you’re laughing  Larry pulls out a Luger, shouts “Sic semper tyrannis” and plants a 9mm slug in Moe’s forehead just below the bowl cut. Cue the cuckoo music. Fade to black.


P.S.:  Since the author was kind enough to provide an advance PDF copy, and since he remarks on one of those sparse pages before the story actually begins that he wrote The Leather Cannon on his phone, I thought the least I could do was read it on my phone.

So I read it on my phone, the entire thing, beginning to end. The first time I have ever done so because I simply could not stop.

I ordered the actual meatspace edition from Amazon as soon as it was available to use for my second read-through. I’m looking forward to enjoying the paper copy with a pipe and a drink. I highly recommend you do the same.


Nick August