Kevin Maloney’s book Cult Of Loretta (Lazy Fascist Press, 2015) is rather unassuming at first glance. It’s cover is rather simple, but symbolically matches the book perfectly.The cover is many two dimensional trees surrounding an orange tree. The whole thing looks like it was scribbled up in twenty minutes. It’s not a book that you see on the shelf and immediately feel the need to pick up. Perhaps that’s the entire point though. Maloney doesn’t want to get his readers attention; he just wants to write a damn awesome book.
Cult of Loretta is completely absurd in the best possible way. Every page had something surprising. This is Maloney’s debut novel, but his many short stories, some of which became chapters in the book, are equally absurd and entertaining. The book is short, but it covers a lot of ground such as an unhealthy obsession with a scarred nymphomaniac, kids experimenting with drugs and sex, crawling back into your mother, stealing medical supplies, and running from butterfly hunters. Cult Of Loretta seems to be about his addiction and obsession.
First, is the obsession with the troubled young woman Loretta. The narrator, Nelson, cannot seem to go without her, even knowing she’s just bad news. Her obsession seems to be copious amounts of sex, more often than not with other men.While with Loretta, Nelson begins experimenting with the fictional drug, screw. The idea of screw is that it is the worst drug out there. Everybody has something they’re obsessed with, and the main characters always choose to become too obsessed with the wrong things.
The novel seems to suggest we have the power to overcome our addictions. These things do not need to dominate our lives. The main characters each have to escape something, and the drug seems to be that escape. That’s why they become addicted. In order to overcome the drug in the long term they have to first overcome the problems they face or learn to cope. For Nelson, this problem is Loretta. The reason for this obsession is probed, but not explored completely within the novel. It’s safe for the reader to assume his obsession is largely because Loretta is hot. However, the reader is also clear that the narrator’s sexual obsession is itself addictive. Loretta, on the other hand, seems to have dealt her past in such a way that she needs the drug in order to run from the feeling it may have caused.
The best thing about Cult Of Loretta is that no matter how absurd it gets it still comes across as amazingly human. The characters made a real impact because the things they took part in were surprising, yet believable. This was mostly because of the fact it’s narrated from the perspective of someone drugged out of their mind. It’s possible the more absurd it gets, the more purpose it gains. The result is a very entertaining and meaningful book that will probably be banned somewhere, someday, so read it while you can. Though, a word of warning, it’s not for sensitive people. There are a few scenes that are less than reader friendly, but if you don’t mind a bit of gore and weird, hallucinatory skeleton sex, then this book absolutely must be read.