SEX AND VIOLENCE, by Aaron Blaylock Hendren
iUniverse, 2001, $12.95, 157pp
ISBN 0-595-20836-3

"These 11 short stories were written by Aaron Blaylock Hendren when he was between the ages of 20 and 29."

I think you can tell this immediately, but for all the right reasons: these 11 stories shine bright with humour, inspired idiocy (the best kind, I always think), awful people and moments that will simply make you smile. The onslaught of throwaway imagination at work here could only be a young man's work.

If some stories seem a little lacking in substance at times then they're all short and sharp, and the brevity is more than made up for by sparkling ideas, such as:
Flowers & Butterflies (one of Hendren's personal favourites) is a wry version of Jeff Noon's Pollen that had me laughing out loud all the way through.
The Spider Experiment is something else; it's deeply unpleasant and I find it impossible to imagine how it ever got into this world! Good and odd.
Three Wishes has a genuinely moving ending, not that the beginning and middle aren't a fun read too.

There are crazier people out there but few who can make such small ideas blossom quite so well. Kurt Vonnegut - especially in Hendren's The Apocalypse Story and Glitter - springs to mind as a stylistic guide for his stories in the future, as does, slightly less so, Raymond Carver for stories like The Little Doll. A superb pedigree.

Sex And Violence (a great title to be seen reading almost anywhere, I think) isn't very thick and doesn't take long to read, but you'll get more out of it than most books twice its length.

You can find some of Aaron's work online at

And finally to finish with, a complete irrelevance - this review was mostly written in a pub in a tiny place called Polgooth in Cornwall - I hope that name amuses you as much as it did me!

Buy it from