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Spotlight on: Two Twisted Nuts: A Chapbook of Testicular Terror
by Jeff Strand and Nick Cato

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Two Twisted Nuts by Jeff Strand and Nick Cato Jeff Strand and Nick Cato, Two Twisted Nuts: A Chapbook of Testicular Terror

"Jake howled in pain. Ms. Duncan flinched as if she'd been struck. 'My God, are those ... are those real?' Ms. Duncan asked, seconds before she dropped to the floor in a dead faint."
-- from Two Twisted Nuts

Any man who respects those two huevos (or cojones or whatever foreign epithet you prefer) that make him what he is should run quickly in the other direction upon seeing this debut release from Novello Publishers. If the cover art from Caligula or the subtitle's promise of "testicular terror" doesn't get the point across, the stories in Two Twisted Nuts certainly do the job advertised. I read every page of this pair of stories by Jeff Strand and Nick Cato with my knees firmly pressed together.

Each author offers his own introduction to Two Twisted Nuts, with Cato telling how he suckered Strand into submitting a story to his upstart publishing company's first book, and Strand telling how he was suckered ... well, you get the idea. Jeff Strand is perhaps best known for his skill at balancing humorous and horrific elements in one tale (although his new novel Pressure, with its mainstream-thriller plot and characters, may change that for good). Both are put to good use in "Mr. Sensitive" as a lothario gets his comeuppance via his latest conquest's statement that he "really should be more sensitive."

"I'll work on that," he says on his way out the door. But he has no idea how sensitive he is about to become as every part of his body becomes ... but that would be giving it away, and it's only a dozen pages long, so that would be unfair. Suffice it to say that Jake sees the error of his ways, whether he likes it or not, and that the reader suffers right along with him.

Cato follows up with "Ball Breaker," which chronicles one film journalist's experience confronting a strange epidemic taking over all the men of Manhattan. From the first scrotal explosion, I was grinding my teeth in anticipation for what was sure to be a big finish. I was not disappointed, and in fact I was surprised by the turn things took on the final pages. Already a fan of Strand's work, I'll be on the lookout for more from Cato in the future as well.

Two Twisted Nuts fulfills its promise and then some. It's a fair bet that, while perusing its pages, you will appear in very much the same distress as the unfortunate subject on its cover. Fortunately, there are laughs to be had that break up the cringes into smaller, more tolerable servings. With thirty-two pages of testicle-themed fiction in its perfect-bound pages, it's no doubt that the title refers to the authors in addition to their subject matter, and if you must spend five hard-earned dollars on a book of stories about "the boys" getting bruised, at least you'll know that half the population is suffering in solidarity.

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