PRESENTING

THE SECOND ANNUAL
BELIEVER BOOK AWARD

HEREBY PRESENTED TO:

ATOMIK AZTEX
BY SESSHU FOSTER

ATOMIK AZTEX by Sesshu Foster

“Prove you are alive. Prove it.” In Atomik Aztex, Sesshu Foster takes a deep breath and conjures a loopy, violent multiverse in which “78 rpm realities” spin one after the other, for a monstrously comic opera in which life and death, glory and degradation, possible pasts and feverish futures collide on cue. Call it Slaughterhouse Jive: narrator Zenzontli is a powerful Aztec warrior attacking the Nazis at Stalingrad in 1942—or a killing floor drudge at an East L.A. meat factory, hallucinating his way out of history to the aroma of naked lunch.

In this delirious first novel—part Mumbo Jumbo, part The Man in the High Castle—poet Foster has the “proper energy vibe” to make the whole thing fly. He Herrimaniacally eschews the hard c in favor of k (“Wake that man up there, I have something kool to say”), unleashes Beat-like stretches of indentless, incantatory prose, and chocks his text with W. B. Yeats and penis-enlargement ads. When an interloper eavesdrops on a rendezvous between Zenzontli and a union organizer, the two trump him with an absurd dialogue consisting wholly of mismatched clichés. What initially seems like a dodgy literary conceit gathers steam as Foster lets the vernacular percolate for a stupid-brilliant three and a half pages. If Atomik Aztex works as a koruskating kritique of U.S. arrogance and konsumption, it’s also an exhilarating melting pot au fou, a twisting masterpiece of hybrid vigor. The pure products of America go krazy—thank Huitzilpochtli.

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From Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster:

The Europeans figured they’d wipe us out, Plan A, enslave our peoples down at the corner liquor store, crush all resistance thru germ warfare and lawyers, lie, cheat, kidnap, ransom, burn our sakred libraries, look our kapital, install Christian theokratik diktatorships, slaughter us by the millions, MILLIONS (my emphasis), then claim it wuz all accidental, just their luck—they’d pretend they just happened by on their way to India to buy some cardamom, some nutmeg and spices—like you’d just accidently happen to decimate Whole Civilizations and Worlds just to set a nice breakfast table—hot coffee, cinnamon toast, chiming silverware; furthermore just by chance, as luck would have it they’d enslave our native brothers and sisters of all other Red Nations as well. Could we let that happen? Of course not. Did we care if they had a Plan B? Hell, no. Cuz in no way does that fit our aesthetic conception of how the universe is supposed to run. It’s just plain ugly. To think that they want to foist that vision of Reality on the rest of us. That’s the insult. Barbarik, cheap aesthetik based on flimsy Mechanistik notions of the omniverse as a Swiss watch set to ticking by some sort of Trinity. The Spanish believed they had superior firepower with their gunpowder, blunderbusses, crossbows with metal darts, steel body-armor, Arabian horses, galleons built in Cádiz. All that wuz true. But we Aztex had our ways and means. We have access to the meanest, nastiest, psycho Gods through voodoo, jump blues, human sacrifice, proletarian vanguard parties, Angry Coffeehouse Poetry, fantasy life intensified thru masturbation & comic books, plus all our armies, Flower Warriors, Jaguar Legions, Eagle Elite Units, Jiu Jitsu and of course the secret weapon. In a nutshell. The Spanish didn’t have a chance. Sure, the Spaniards rowed up in their quaint canvas-rigged galleons ready to conquer the world. The vicious leathery little rats crossed the Sargasso Sea come to find out indigenous peoples already had their number. We welcomed them to our land. They were not heard from again. And after the Spanish fell to our advance forces, who was gonna stop us? The Italians? Come on! They don’t even make second round of the World Cup.

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Click here to read about the Believer Book Award finalists.

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