The Brick-Eaters is a novel by The Residents, published by Feral House on July 10th 2018. It tells the story of a young Internet content screener who teams up with an aging career criminal whose only companions are his revolver and oxygen bottle.
The Brick-Eaters is the first published novel credited to the group which is not based on an existing piece of media (a novella credited to the group based on their 1995 CD-ROM game Bad Day On The Midway was released in 2016).
The release of the novel was later accompanied by a soundtrack album (of sorts), Music To Eat Bricks By, which included the original instrumental soundtrack from the group's serial audio drama The River of Crime.
"Frank Blodgett, the novel’s narrative voice, is an alcoholic, middle-aged writer from Los Angeles, wallowing in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Desperately seeking any excuse to escape a dysfunctional life, Frank seizes upon a newspaper article relating the discovery of Wilmer Graves's body, abandoned beside his oxygen bottle and revolver, on a lonely road in southern Missouri.
Pursuing a story he desperately needs to tell, the writer immediately flies to Kansas City, rents a car and drives to Clinton, Missouri, the scene of the old man’s death. A series of curious incidents and chance encounters lead Blodgett to believe he’s onto the story of a lifetime until, drunk, lovesick and out of control, he drives his rental car into a ditch, ultimately finding himself sharing a jail cell with Ted Hendricks.
Suspicious and defensive, Hendricks initially clashes with the writer before eventually breaking down and confessing his involvement."
Written by the group intermittently while on tour, The Brick-Eaters was released by The Residents through alternative publishing company Feral House (following the unexpected death of its founder Adam Parfrey) on July 10th 2018.
“I know it’s confusing, Willy, but it’s all spelled out in PAGWAG’s manifesto right here on their Facebook page. From their perspective, the population of Los Angeles is primarily made up of celebrities and other parasites, who they see as scum… the underbelly of our culture, but they also understand that this celebrity class is highly influential. Okay, here’s the deal… while a little fluoride is good for your teeth, too much of it creates a condition called dental fluorosis, which makes your teeth turn brown. So the purpose of this fluoride contamination is to give BAD TEETH to everyone in L.A., and once that happens, the parasites will support PAGWAG’s agenda of cleaning up and protecting the water supply. I mean, their plan is completely demented, but it’s not without a certain twisted logic. Think about it—whoever heard of a celebrity with brown teeth? It’s kind of fascinating.”
“But you’re gonna report ’em, right? They can’t get away with this shit… can they?”
“Well, they haven’t actually done anything illegal yet, but even so, there’s really nothing to worry about. It’s like I said before, PAGWAG’s agenda may be a little more creative than most of the whack jobs out there, but in one sense, they’re all the same… they never have any money, so they’re ineffective. Unbalanced, sure, and maybe even crazy, but they’re ultimately harmless.”
Continuing his story, Hendricks said the next day they pulled their final robbery.
Stopping outside a liquor store, Willy speaks, “This shud’n take long, kid. Just wait out here with the motor runnin’ an’ I’ll be right back.” The tech worker watches as the old man struggles to remove himself and his oxygen tank from the car, then, standing outside the door, he pulls out his pistol, takes a deep breath and enters. No sooner does the ex-con disappear inside the small building than a huge pickup drives up and parks next to the Honda. As the young tech worker watches, a very large, overweight man exits the truck and immediately enters the liquor store no more than sixty seconds behind Willy Graves.
Sensing trouble, Hendricks leaves the car, its motor still running, approaches the store and peeks through the window. Peering into the dark interior, he’s horrified to see the big man standing near the door pointing a gun at Willy across the room; Graves is positioned by the cash register, his pistol also drawn and aimed at the clerk. Shouting voices can be heard through the window, but the sound is too muffled to be clearly understood.
Anxious, Hendricks pauses for a moment then quickly retrieves his iPod and headphones from the Honda. Convinced that the man hasn’t seen him, the tech worker places the headphones on his ears, playing the music loud enough that a distinct buzz can be heard by anyone nearby. The music is “Constantinople,” a song by The Residents, and Hendricks immediately begins to sing along as he enters the liquor store, blithely swaying to the music. “Here I come, Constantinople, here I come, Constantinople…”
As the tech worker enters the room, both Willy and the big man are screaming, each demanding that the other surrender and drop his weapon. Terrified of finding himself in the line of fire, the clerk cowers behind the counter. Deliberately looking away from the ongoing conflict, Hendricks appears oblivious to the tense standoff as he casually approaches a large display of liquor bottles still singing, “All the leaves are off of the oak and all the sheep have followed…”
- Homer Flynn, "An Excerpt From The Brick-Eaters, a Novel by The Residents", Talkhouse, August 28th 2018