The phrase ‘Internet Troll’ is given a rather more literal meaning in “Unlike”, the first story in Idle Hands, a humorous anthology by Paul Cheshire that takes profanity to the next level. You see, the unnecessary posts that people make on Facebook give the trolls the strength to materialize in the real world and wreak havoc. Too bad our hero forgot to reactive the Facebook app on his phone…
At 24 pages, Idle Hands may be one of the shortest anthologies you’re likely to come across. Each story only takes up around three pages, so don’t go expecting any deep characterization or mind-bending philosophy here. Still, whoever said that things need to be complicated? If the idea is strong enough, 1-3 pages is is plenty of time to get a story across. You don’t need the length of the Harry Potter novels for a story about a man called Mr. Seks and the constant filthy letters he keeps receiving. And with each story having its own visual style, the care that Cheshire put into making the volume as unique as possible is clearly evident on every one of those pages.
You may have heard of a “non-fiction” book called Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham, first published in 1954, that set out demonize comic books. Well, society always had to have a scapegoat for its problems, and before video games it was comic books. Wertham was the Jack Thompson of his time, someone who was unable to see the artistic value of what people had created and tried to belittle their work by blaming it for society’s wrongdoings without acknowledging the time and hard work that the creators had put into creating it. Well, at least Idle Hands finally confirms what was probably clear from the get-go: Wertham was insane.
Also, there’s another story called “Cunt Dracula”, about, well you get the idea. Yeah. You simply can’t review Idle Hands and not mention the name of that story.
The volume ends with a full page close up of a character proclaiming that he is “high as shit”, which seems describe the state that Cheshire was in when he wrote Idle Hands. Most of the time, when something tries to be be too rude, it either ends up being crudely juvenile or otherwise ashamed of itself. Idle Hands does neither and instead Cheshire lovingly embraces its more profane content in a way that very few other writers are capable of.