"Beach Bodies" by Nick Kolakowski (2022)

Beach Bodies, the latest novel from Nick Kolakowski, is a mind-trip, genre-bending twist on the home invasion scenario, and its swiftly-moving 139 page pack a whole lot of weirdness.

The set-up is straightforward: Julia is working as caretaker to a billionaire prepper’s bunker located at a remote beach-front area. Staying with her is her ex-boyfriend Alec, a wanna-be crypto bro recovering from a shrapnel injury obtained in Ukraine. When the motion detectors sense intruders, Julia investigates and finds three people, one of whom is badly injured. Her job forbids her to let her in—but these people won’t take no for an answer.

What ensues is decidedly not-so-straightforward. Every time I thought I had an inkling of what was coming around the corner, Kolakowski defied expectation, and took the story into marvelously messed-up places I never saw coming.

Bless Kolakowski and his warped imagination, who offers moments of high-octane thrills; gross-out comedy; Cronenberg-y body horror; a bar-sex scene set to a Rudolph Valentino-Nita Naldi silent film I never knew I wanted so badly; and, in the quiet moments between the batshit craziness, there’s perceptive scenes about two young lovers who are shitty to themselves and each other because they still have a lot to learn. 

This is gonzo noir, and I love it.

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