Approaching a review for an essay compendium is a essentially difficult task, given that such works broach topics ranging all sorts. That is doubly true for “Cultured Grugs,” a compendium of essays penned by John “Borzoi” Chapman. So I suppose I won’t tear myself up attempting to come up with the perfect profound introduction for the book. I’ll merely do with the requisite formalities of a reviewer. Technically speaking I am a decent acquaintance of Borzoi, mostly sending him unsolicited fish tank advice and technical opinions, and I did receive a review copy, mostly however, to allow time for me to compose this review in time for the book’s release. Beyond that, I shan’t allow my relations with the author to cloud my perception of the book. I will also say I do not intend to review each essay individually. And to save time for the person asking “should I buy the book?” I quite liked it and I would recommend it as a decent lazy Saturday afternoon page turner, earning a spot on my shelf in between the Mabinogion and the Monstergirl Encyclopedia. So yes, if you’re on the fence, buy Borzoi’s book.
The first portion of the volume covers essays and writings that are commonly available now on Race Borz or the American Sun, from a variety of sources. I won’t touch on these much, but naturally the standout tour de pessimism Piss Earth, 2025 appears, beating most of the other content by a clean country mile. Borzoi’s greatest strength as a writer lies in his usage of novel metaphor as a narrative, illustrative and explanatory device, and much of the essays in the entire work lean into this strength exquisitely. As a result I consider the strongest piece in the book Grim Omens of the Cyber Legion, which takes a metaphor and forces it literally, compelling the reader to do so with equal parts horror and awe.
While this section has its heights, the common reader (including myself) will likely find collegiate level discourse with and on postmodern literature either too dense or too specific to gain much from. Fortunately for the mass audience and this reviewer, this synthesis of technospectical and postmodern discourse does not swallow the whole work into depths of multi-syllable esoteric vocabulary common in niche academic subjects. I offer my humblest compliments to the author in avoiding the Evolian temptation to intentionally confuse and bewilder the audience at the cost of clarity. Overall the previously published section displays the quality Borzoi writing most of us already are at least acquainted with, and infrequently delves into dizzying philosophical complexities.
While the two strongest essays of the work are found outside of its new works section, the new works section reads on average better than the older works. While I do not wish to spoil the entirety of the contents but they range from a meditation on parasocial relationships that starts with discourse on 2D women, a short story regarding the terror of doxing, and a heartfelt letter to his child. The most refreshing part of this discourse is that it retains a distance from the orange and red poison that has choked dissident discourse for the past half decade. Nowhere are discussions on “populism” or the other trite system adjacent subjects found. While I might quibble with Borzoi’s vision of what people with engineering textbooks ought to be allowed to do, I cannot dispute that he presents vastly more interesting and fun mental exercises than rearranging the same trite platitudes about system political organizations that want us dead. The essays sell themselves as works of right wing analysis without the usual detritus of institutional politics, plan trusting and dubious cults of personality. That’s the core of what is on offer, unique and interesting dissident ideas, Borzoi looks ahead instead of dissecting hairs split 1,000 times. And while the temptation exists to give away much of what is discussed here, I think Borzoi’s writing will do a much better job carrying itself than I ever could.
Overall, if one can get past the depressive implications of some of the essays, “Cultured Grugs” provides entertaining and thought provoking prose at a wonderful level of accessibility. If anything I touched on sounds intriguing, give it a look! I give it a lamia out of a kikimora.
Cultured Grugs can be found on https://www.antelopehillpublishing.com/.