REVIEW: The Condimental Op

The Condimental Op From the quirky, bestselling author of 'One Hundred Years of Vicissitude' comes this brilliant collection in which noir, surrealism, fantasy, comic book art and sci-fi/dystopian dread collide with snapshots of contemporary culture and purist pulp in Bergen's merry bag of tricks. Lobbed amidst the comix, you'll find previously limited-release yarns dating back to 1989, offbeat articles on Japan, images, ideas and reject matériel from his novels — and a glimpse into the horrors of subtitling Japanese anime.

If you've ever wanted to peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse of an author's life, THE CONDIMENTAL OP is for you. From the cover (drawn by Bergen's young daughter Cocoa) to short stories spun from scrapped scenes in TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE and WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CAPES OF HEROPA?, and non-fiction articles from his past life as a journalist, Bergen delivers a sort-of DVD Extras/Bonus Content/B-sides collection. And it's genuine fun.

The short stories republished from recent anthologies/e-zines (All Due Respect, Weird Noir, Off the Record 2, Big Pulp, Pulp Ink 2 and more) are great, but Bergen's commentary on editing (the process as well as cutting scenes and tweaking them for the collection) and his non-fiction articles really stuck out for me. I'm a huge fan of Satoshi Kon (R.I.P.) and it was a pleasant surprise to read a review of his film Paprika - made me grab it off the shelf along with Paranoia Agent to throw in the queue for a watch. AND, Bergen got to work with Production I.G. (count me jealous) - recounting his role in assisting the company achieve a natural English translation.

Overall, the book was a refreshing treat and a format I'd like to see other authors pursue.

THE CONDIMENTAL OP hits the stands on July 26, 2013.