Shit Happens

Author Harrison Phillips admits upfront that his latest novel Feces of Death is based on true events. What does that mean exactly, I wonder? Was Phillips a plumber at one time? A wastewater treatment operator? A trash collector? Maybe he was a dung beetle in a former life?

Whatever the case may be, it’s obvious that Phillips knows his shit. There are endless descriptions of animatum excrementa throughout the book, and most of these descriptions are gleefully rendered. Be forewarned: At some point you may think to yourself “Why am I sitting here on my comfy couch, drinking milk thistle tea, listening to lo-fi beats and reading a book about shit?” It’s a fair question, I have to admit. 

Here’s how the author describes his monster fecal fatberg for the very first time: It was slimy and sticky, a mottled green, black and brown mound. An awful smell emanated from it—like a rancid concoction of dried vomit and decomposing waste.“It was like a mountain of shit,” explains Phillips, “shimmering in the darkness.” 

But it gets worse … waaaay worse. If you’re thinking about reading this book you better batten down the hatches and get ready for an avalanche of rampaging, sentient shit. For example: “The thing down in the toilet sprang forth from the water and entered John, squeezing itself into his anus. A terrible burning sensation exploded from his rectum, as if he’d just been given a gasoline enema, and a lit match had been inserted into his sphincter.” 

The novel begins like all comic book supervillain origin stories. There’s an unfortunate accident, a series of unforeseen events and the unlikely emergence of abominable evil. Flint Marko and Clayface (among others) know what I’m talking about. 

Three weeks later, the shits emerge from the sewers in great swarms. They varied vastly in shape and size. Some were as big as a large man, while others were the size of a dog. Some had wide, gaping maws full of razor-sharp teeth. Others seemed to be entirely formless, malleable blobs of excrement. “Nobody was safe from the wrath of the shits,” says Phillips. 

The fecal onslaught is terrible, but it isn’t the most horrible thing in the book. There’s one snippet that’s gross and cruel. Hopelessly inebriated at a party, a 16-year-old girl is taken to the bathroom, pushed face-first into the toilet bowl and raped from behind. 

“Sorry babe,” says her teenaged assailant with an evil laugh, “but I didn’t get a chance to put a rubber on. You might need to get an abortion in a couple of months!” 

The girl didn’t laugh. She didn’t move a muscle. She didn’t even take a breath. That’s because her face was gone, eaten by a hungry shit monster emerging from the toilet. Final verdict: Feces of Death is nasty business. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  

[Feces of Death / By Harrison Phillips / First Printing: March 2023 / ISBN: 9781957133294]