Zola by D. E. McCluskey

Anthony Zola was a terrible person. One need only look at the cruel joke of a name he saddled his only son with, Gordon. Gordon Zola, a childish gag and a pointed jab at his wife’s obsessive cheese consumption. Unfortunately for Andrea and Gordon Zola, that horrible appellation is the least of Anthony’s transgressions against his wife and child.
Years of abuse and manipulation from her husband had compressed Andrea’s life to the extent that her world revolved entirely around her monster of a husband and her socially isolated son. Just as she finally began transforming herself into a woman she could recognize when she looked in the mirror, a horrific discovery sent her life spiraling out of control. Anthony’s bonding time with their son has a far more sinister purpose than Andrea could have imagined, and the only solution is a drastic one.
Unhealthy codependence and unspeakable appetites become the crux of mother and son’s relationship, inexorably drawing Andrea and Gordon into further segregation from the world around them. As barbaric solutions become the only way the two of them can survive, Andrea and Gordon devolve into a bestial existence of filth and isolation that escalates until the heartbreakingly inevitable conclusion.
McCluskey provides readers with a poignant tale of family and intense psychological trauma through a medium rife with absurdity and graphic depictions of revolting inhumanity. Zola is a coming-of-age story for the perpetual adolescent; a depiction of acute arrested development in the form of Gordon Zola, a boy who grew into a man without ever having a chance to develop any life for himself under the aberrant safekeeping of his traumatized mother.
As easy as it might be to write this story off as being a steadily intensifying gross-out narrative–and there’s a lot to gross the reader out–there’s a whole lot of sadness and distressing truth to be found in these pages as well. McCluskey tells us the tale of a man who never had a chance to be anything but the monstrosity he became, all because of a father’s cruelty and a mother’s misguided love.

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Cravings by D. E. McCluskey

Pickles, raw meat, even toilet paper, I’ve heard of some peculiar cravings experienced by pregnant women. For Sarah, her impulsive craving for a burger on the way home from an ultrasound was only the beginning. She doesn’t discover the true meaning of craving until she rushes to the bathroom after devouring that meal.
McCluskey hits us with a barrage of revolting set pieces devoted to Sarah fulfilling her new and increasingly disgusting cravings from that point on. We’re unable to turn away as we witness the vile, superbly detailed filth unfolding before us until everything in the first-time mother’s life spirals out of control as she desperately seeks to provide her unborn child with what it needs.
The best part is that none of this feels like shock and revulsion simply for the sake of creating something gross. There’s something more behind the mischievous and perverse imagination on display here. McCluskey manages to make us question things along the way.
How far will a parent go to provide what they believe their child needs from them?
How much willpower and control does one have in reserve when faced with an overwhelming, all-consuming impulse like a pregnancy craving?
How hard is it to clean certain substances out of one’s clothing after ravenously digging into a truly messy meal?
I hope I never have the answers to any of these questions, and I dearly hope that McCluskey’s answer to the first two questions is not what we discover in these pages.

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