“Decadence Kills follows in the tradition of William S. Burroughs, with its influx of dreamlike passages, descriptions of animalistic human behaviors, unsettling, near-apocalyptic imagery, and offering moments of stark poetry amidst the ugliness of the established universe.”
— BOOKLIFE PRIZE
Decadence Kills is a pitch-black, Sweeney Todd-tinged story of contemporary class, murder, deep disgust, and occasional tenderness. Readers will find sharp prose and a story that gets wilder and more inventive as it goes. Comparable Titles: Michel Houellebecq,
— PublISHERS WEEKLY
“Michael P. Charlton is so gritty that he could eat Charles Bukowski for breakfast.”
— JOHN DAVID EBERT, CULTURAL CRITIC
“Michael P. Charlton has a skill for writing rich dialogue, likeable characters, and memorable conflicts, the relationships enriched by violence and tenderness.”
— JAMES ANDERS BANKS, BOOKER PRIZE LISTED, AWARD-WINNING NOVELIST
Western Civilization is suffering from a terminal illness.
We can sit around and wait for the inevitable or fight until our last breath.
Breakdown of families, collapsed traditions, increasing dependencies, and high crime rates. Decadence Kills will drop you into the bloodstream of decaying communities, showing how degeneracy has shattered the immune system of ordinary lives.
A highly inventive novel that has been crafted to represent the exhausted greed that forever demands our limited attention. Slice your way through the thick, meaty prose which holds together our terrifying Present and dreaded Future.
Plot/Idea: Decadence Kills is a dizzying fever dream of a novel set in a nightmare landscape of warring parties, violence, sex, addiction, and dissolution of order.
Prose: Charlton's disjointed and visceral prose style is in the novel's greatest strength. Once readers become acclimated to the absurdity of the circumstances, the work offers moments of stark poetry amidst the ugliness of the established universe.
Originality: Decadence Kills follows in the tradition of William S. Burroughs, with its influx of dreamlike passages, descriptions of animalistic human behaviors, and unsettling, near-apocalyptic imagery.
Character/Execution: The characters in Decadence Kills are more figurative than fully formed, with the protagonist emerging as an individual tasked with protecting his wife–Mrs. Sykes–and their child, Baby Owl, from sinister characters with uncertain motives like Mr. Pyjamas. Decadence Kills largely eschews conventional storytelling. Readers invested in the narrative will be captivated by the work's absurdity and black humor, even as these elements threaten to fully overwhelm the novel.
Date Submitted: August 19, 2023
To meet Mr. P’s need, and to keep his family from the horrors of living in a “council estate,” the narrator targets the “mentally-ill, germ infested vermin” whose existence most pains him: his and Mrs. Sykes’s extended family, a lot of “degenerates” who can’t get through a get-together without screaming matches and public sex acts. The narrator’s deep distaste for such offenses is matched by his relish in describing them—in fact, other than showing loyalty to and providing for his immediate family (“Not many commoners are given such an opportunity”) what he relishes most in life seems to be the registering of his disgust at “pointless lives,” at “ignoramuses,” at the large breasts of relatives, at a world where “everything and everyone is pointless.”
Readers who can stomach the pointed, unrelenting repulsiveness, and who can be bothered to invest in the fate of a family murderer, will find sharp prose and a story that gets wilder and more inventive as it goes, revealing what Mr. P wants the bodies for, the shocking scope of the operation, and just how far the narrator can be pushed. Since it opens at such a pitch, the novel’s only real suspense is whether Charlton’s zeal for fresh, repugnant, quasi-comic thought-experiment horrors will ever flag. Spoiler: it doesn’t. The biggest surprise, though, is that this soiling journey arrives at an ending that achieves poignance despite the bleakness.
Takeaway: Pointedly outrageous story of class, murder, and life’s emptiness.
Comparable Titles: Michel Houellebecq, Michael Sonbert’s We Are Oblivion.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-