The Eccentropedia by Chris Mikul

Book:  The Eccentropedia: The Most Unusual People Who Have Ever Lived

Author:  Chris Mikul

Type of Book:  Non-fiction, compendium, encyclopedia

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd:  Because it is a book devoted wholly to weird people.

Availability:  Published by Headpress in 2013, you can get a copy here:

Comments: My love for all of Chris Mikul’s work is pretty well established by now so I won’t discuss in depth why I think he is and always will be an author worth reading aside from just stating that his love for the odd in this world makes his work very topical for me and for this site. I can’t imagine anyone will be surprised to learn that I think this is great book.  Anyone with a love for strange ideas or eccentrics will need to add this book to their collection.  The book discusses some usual suspects in the weirdo game, like Helena Blavatsky, Charles Fort, Aleister Crowley and Michael Jackson, but for every person whose name comes up all the time in compendiums devoted to eccentrics, there were ten more I had never heard of before.

Because this is quite literally an encyclopedia, the only way to discuss it is to outline a few of the more outlandish people featured in the book.  Not the most exciting way to discuss a book but hopefully the lunacy of the people I select will make up for it.  Here’s a short selection of some of the weird people I had not heard of prior to reading this book, and hopefully there will be a couple I discuss who will be new to you, too.

Baroness Eloise Wagner De Bosquet was a horse-faced woman with buck teeth whose force of charm made her very attractive to people, if only for a short period of time.  After four divorces, in the early 1930s she persuaded two of her lovers to accompany her to Floreana Island, part of the Galapagos Islands chain, to join in with the settlers on the island.  She wanted to create a hotel there, and while visitors to the island found her delightful, less so the two families who lived there permanently.  The lover triad became abusive for one of the men, and The Baroness and one of her lovers disappeared, never to be seen again.  In the wake of that disappearance, there were two more mysterious deaths associated with Floreana, no small feat for an island with fewer than a dozen permanent inhabitants.

I read Mikul’s entry about The Baroness and then immediately discovered a Netflix film called The Galapagos Affair.  The film is an historical piece that covers all of the Baroness’ antics and the scandals and murders on Floreana Island.  I recommend watching it because not only was it a pretty good movie, it also shows how The Baroness could possibly have had any sex appeal to the many men she attracted.  In photos and a silent movie, she is surprisingly attractive.  But still, if you are going to be a part of a cuckold-trio, it seems better to be in thrall to a really beautiful or rich woman. That way when your body is discovered on a desert island with no fresh water source, at least people will see your sorry end as the inevitable result of loving a very bad but extremely beautiful woman.

Next let’s discuss Percy Grainger, an Australian musician and composer.  I was drawn to his entry in The Eccentropedia because he just seems so unlikely.  Had he been a fictional character he would have seemed completely unbelievable. As a boy, his mother told him he was destined for greatness and encouraged him to practice piano for hours.  She whipped him if she felt he was not working hard enough and those whippings became a part of his creative impulse as an adult.  He eventually married a Swedish woman who both understood and did not mind that beating Grainger often was going to be an an important part of their marriage.  Grainger liked whipping others but his masochism took up a lot of room in his psyche, as well as sex in general.

The whippings as a child worked because he became a prodigy, and his marriage to a Swedish woman was more or less inevitable because after a trip to pre-war Germany, Grainger became convinced of the superiority of the Nordic people.  His admiration for the Nordic people leaned heavily into racism but he was also interested in and influenced by the Maori.  He was a fan of Duke Ellington and counted Jews in the number of his friends, but he also created a weird language he called “blue-eyed English” wherein he eliminated all words that did not have an Anglo-Saxon origin and replaced them with his own creations.  This was especially interesting for a composer to do, given all the Italian words used in music.  This site has a short list of the words that Grainger created and is itself a good look at Grainger’s many eccentricities.  Almost equally eccentric, I also discovered that Grainger had invaded unlikely realms online, notably Tumblr and Pinterest tags related to “hot dead guys.”  (On a related note, who knew how ridiculously handsome Anton Chekhov was? Well, evidently lots of people, but I certainly didn’t until I looked up Percy Grainger.)

I am unsure if I really consider Benjamin Lay to be a true eccentric as much as I consider him an excessively-devoted moralist, but the picture Mikul paints of his activities is pretty memorable.  Born in England, Lay first encountered slavery in 1730s Barbados, which made him become a staunch abolitionist.  He and his wife, both Quakers, later emigrated to Philadelphia, where he found that some of his fellow Quakers were slave-owners.  Lay was not one to be subtle in his advocacy.  When he got tossed out of a church for being disruptive, he stretched out in front of the entrance so that everyone who left had to step over him.  On other occasions, he engaged in some one-man theater that is both funny and dramatic:

He invaded another meeting wearing a military uniform with a sword, and carrying a hollowed out book (to represent the Bible) in which was concealed a bladder containing pokeberry juice.  Declaring that enslaving a man was no better than stabbing him through the heart, he drew the sword and plunged it into his ‘Bible’, spattering those nearest him with the red juice.  He once sat outside a meeting in the middle of the winter with one bare leg deep in the snow.  When passersby expressed concern, he said, ‘You pretend compassion for me, but you do not feel for the poor slaves in your fields who go all winter half clad.’  He was not afraid of taking direct action, and once went so far as to kidnap a slave owner’s three-year-old child, so he would know how it felt to lose a loved one.

It also bears mentioning that Lay was a hunchback, rendering him 4’6″ tall.  He died happy because on his death bed, just before he died, the Quaker church had voted to reject slavery.  I wonder how much his activism led them to adopt their moral stance.

My favorite entry was Eliza Donnithorne, the woman who was likely the inspiration for Dicken’s Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. Eliza was born in India where her father was a judge.  Her mother and two sisters died during a cholera outbreak and her heartbroken father decided to relocate to Australia, moving there with the young Eliza in 1836.  When it came time for Eliza to entertain suitors, she rejected all of her father’s favorites, falling for a shipping clerk named George Cuthbertson.  When George proposed to Eliza, her father, known for having a very bad temper, informed George that if he ever caused Eliza any anguish after the marriage, he would be severely punished.

And we all sort of know what happened next.  George jilted Eliza on the day of their wedding.  Eliza believed he would eventually arrive and remained in her wedding dress the entire day.  She came unhinged when she saw wedding guests consuming food meant for the wedding banquet.  Concerned friends took her to her room, where she remained for a month, but honored her request that the wedding banquet be left alone and the dining room door locked.  Unfortunately Eliza was pregnant by George, and when she gave birth the baby was given to a servant to raise, to preserve Eliza’s reputation.  Perhaps that was why George ran away – the prospect of a baby born seven months after the wedding, given Mr. Donnithorne’s threats regarding bad behavior, probably gave him pause.

Eventually Eliza’s father died and she inherited his estate, but that did not encourage her to resume normal life. She had spent years waiting for George to return to her, and had descended completely into madness.

After his [her father’s] death, she had all the shutters on the windows of the house nailed up, and dismissed all but two of her servants… relying on them to conduct all her business with the outside world.  She continued to wear her wedding dress, and the dining room with its uneaten feast remained locked.

It was never wholly proven that she was Dicken’s inspiration, but it seems very likely that at some point he heard her story – the descriptions of the two women seem just too similar for coincidence.  Stranger things have happened though.

This is one of my shorter discussions but to discuss it too much would ruin the nature of the book.  Encyclopedias don’t lend themselves well to my typical in-depth discussions.  This encyclopedia especially doesn’t, given its substantial length (over 500 pages) and 266 entries that cover almost all forms of human perversity, insanity, determination and genius.  This book also has some excellent illustrations by Glenn Smith.  While I completed this book in two sittings, this is a book that can be read in fits and starts, a great book to read when you suspect you may face interruptions, like waiting in line at the DMV.  Mikul, while he can write fiction well, uses a style in this book that is a mix of journalism with clear affection for the subject matter, ensuring the book is readable and engrossing.  I loved this book and highly recommend it!

Published in: Encylopedia, non-fiction | on May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

God speed, Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell died on May 2. She suffered a stroke back on January 7, and though she lasted for a while, she was unable to recover. That wasn’t entirely unexpected – she was 85-years-old.

I am an aspiring Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine complete-ist and hope to own first editions in all of her books. I only have a few at the moment but hopefully I have a few more decades to finish up.

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I had started a Ruth Rendell discussion for this site. She was not only one of the best mystery writers ever to grace the genre, but she understood mental illness in a way no other writer has mastered nearly as well. I am writing about some of the mentally-ill characters Rendell created, among them the woman with contamination OCD in Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, the main character with borderline personality disorder in The Bridesmaid, and a host of afflicted characters in her short stories. The illnesses play an important role in her intricate but quite believable plots and it almost seems at times like Rendell wrote about mental illness in a way that could poke at my own mental ticks.  The protagonist in “You Can’t Be Too Careful” suffered from some sort of personality disorder and was obsessed with safety, orderliness, cleanliness and self-assumed duty.  She was constantly ruminating over locks, doors on latches, dusting books, cot beds.  When I was a kid, I had a pretty serious case of echolalia that I more or less grew out of but always lurks.  This short story set it off.  It was the repetition of “k” and “t”, I think.  I find myself saying, under my breath, book lock cot latch book lock…

I wonder if anyone else has this experience when they read this story?

At any rate, I will at some point finish and post the article.  Ruth Rendell really was one of the finest writers of her generation and genre and I feel somewhat stricken to know she is gone forever and that there will be no more books.  God speed, Baroness Rendell.

Published in: Writers Should Not Be Mortal | on May 4th, 2015 | No Comments »

Down Where the Devil Don’t Go by Paul Bingham

Book:  Down Where the Devil Don’t Go

Author:  Paul Bingham

Type of Book:  Fiction, short story collection

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd:  Because one of the stories is entitled, “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Hollywood”.

Availability:  Published by Nine Banded Books in 2014, you can get a copy here:

Or you can order it directly from the publisher.

Comments: My love for short story collections has been firmly established by now, so, in spite of the picture of the deformed kitten on the cover, I was already inclined toward liking this book.  I was somewhat disappointed.   Bingham’s prose style is similar to my own when I write fiction – Bingham relishes ridiculous and horrible details yet writes about them in a spare, concise manner.  He eschews over-use of adjectives and adverbs, which gives his prose an immediacy, a sort of direct punch that doesn’t get dragged down by needless scene setting or excessive characterization.  This is not beautiful prose; rather, this is effective prose.  But even as the prose is effective, I still found it difficult to like this collection as much as the solid writing would ordinarily inspire in me.

The book consists of four stories and the first, “Population I” verges dangerously into cliched territory, yet is the best story in the collection.  Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: fiction, Short Story Collections | on May 1st, 2015 | 5 Comments »

NVSQVAM (nowhere) by Ann Sterzinger

Book:  NVSQVAM (nowhere)

Author:  Ann Sterzinger

Type of Book: Fiction, literary fiction

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Oh, this book…

Availability:  Published by Nine Banded Books in 2011, you can get a copy here:

Amazon currently has this book on sale for Kindle for $2.99.  That makes it almost impossible not to take a look.

Comments: There are two reasons to read this book.  The first reason is because Sterzinger nails a specific social dissatisfaction I tend to associate with the sorts of men who really love Jonathan Franzen, a sort of Lester Burnham-esque unhappiness that can only be cured by having sex with a much-younger woman and sneering at the daily grind and everyday domesticity.  She distills this generational malaise through a single character and refuses to show us the way out, because, most of the time there isn’t one.  The other reason to read it is because it is so very funny.  Seriously, Sterzinger has the sort of intelligent, acerbic wit that I imagined I had back when I was a drunk.

I think this is a book that will read differently to every person who picks it up.  Women of a certain age (hi!) will want to take the protagonist and swat him with a newspaper until he stops pissing and moaning about his life and either accepts it or changes it in a meaningful way, and I wanted to swat him all the more because Lester (yep, Lester) Reichartsen is himself a man of a certain age.  He embodies the Gen-X confusion-burnout that I see plaguing so many of my age-peers, coupled with a longing for an edgy past because their passivity and entitlement meant they ended up in a life they really never wanted but didn’t have the balls to reject along the way.

In the beginning, Lester is just one of those people.  You know, the ones to whom everything happens and they actually do very little.  They feel very put-upon.  Lester is more or less living a life he hates that he feels happened to him due to no actions or faults of his own.  He hates everyone around him – especially his only child and the religious mid-westerners who surround his college town – and the only things he really accomplishes, aside from a prolonged, drunken nervous breakdown, are taking long walks and engaging in an affair.

Though I find Lester largely irritating and unlikeable, he is not unique in his passive, seething uselessness.  Jesus, so many young people born to baby boomer parents ended up like this.  Almost all of us were latch-key kids, the post-Reagan economic state seemed hopeless, and we had Pearl Jam running across the stage in baggy shorts making millions of dollars moaning about their mothers, which was sort of understandable because so many of us were raised in divorced, single-parent, female-headed households. Some young men raised in such an environment felt buffeted by fate, as if everything they wanted would never happen and they entered a post-collegiate life with no idea what to do next.  Get married?  Yeah, that worked so well for our parents.  Get a good job?  But aren’t we supposed to find our bliss and honor our talents?  Didn’t our parents raise us to honor our deep individuality (while giving us little assistance in determining how to put that individuality to use)?  Get a factory job?  None are left.  The world changed so much in such a short period of time that all the lessons many Gen-xers were taught were obsolete the day after they became adults.

It’s tempting to write Lester off as a self-involved crap-fest of a human being, but even as I wanted to grab his nose between my index and middle finger and twist it violently, I felt a certain level of empathy for him.  He almost seems like an embodiment of the sentiment expressed in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club – we were all told we were going to be rock stars and when that didn’t happen it pissed off large segments of this generation. So many of us feel like we have failed our families, ourselves and especially our past, idealistic selves.  What do we do about that rage and real failure? To avoid that sense of failure, wounded egos become passive, taking paths of least resistance, so they can say that they aren’t responsible for anything in their lives – that’s how we end up with Lesters.  Lester Reichartsen is a self-absorbed, largely useless asshole but he’s our asshole, my generation’s asshole.  You can’t hobble large segments of a generation and then hold them completely responsible for limping.  Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: fiction, Literary Fiction | on April 20th, 2015 | 15 Comments »

Lousy Smarch Weather

Central Texas is not supposed to be this cold.  Seriously, I used to dream of moving to Maine and White Christmases and other ice-glazed fantasies, but I am rethinking that dream.

The Every Cradle is a Grave discussion will have to wait because I simply cannot get it together.  I am emotionally unable to pull out what it is I want to say.  My mother had a very bad death, one that did not have to happen in a society wherein we understand that it is unacceptable to ask an elderly woman with no higher brain function left due to a hemorrhage, a woman who was terminally ill and close to death before the hemorrhage happened, to starve to death in an irreversible coma because suicide is bad.  I’m a failed suicide.  There is a successful suicide in my family that haunts some of us, and haunted my mother especially in the months before her death.  So yeah, this is an issue carrying a lot of recent and distant emotional baggage for me.

We are having an ashes ceremony for my mother in two weeks and I hope having a ceremonial end to the medically-sanctioned torture that my family endured earlier this year will make it easier for me to complete that discussion.  Not in terms of writing – I’ve written a novel about this book.  My problem is that I want to say everything at once and I need to get some emotional clarity.  Look for it later this month, hopefully.

But before then I have other books I can discuss and will.  Actually, I have a shocking number of books to discuss.  2014 was really a lost year in many regards.

I’ve been falling down some true crime holes lately (insomnia was killing me last week and insomnia always means finding weird crap online as I restlessly surf on my phone praying for some REM) and I stumbled across this woman’s blog.  Her writing style amuses me and she discusses less-famous murder cases.  The case that landed me on her site, the intensely strange story of Albert Brust (a Nazi-loving, untermensch and middle-aged virgin who became a torture killer and incorporated a dead body into a bathroom remodel), is the weakest entry on the site yet is still very interesting, so if you dislike it, keep reading. If you like my verbose style and appreciate sarcasm set to eleven, you’ll like her blog.

So I plan to plow through some discussions as I wait for my brain to open up for Sarah Perry’s opus.  Let me know what you’ve been reading or any interesting blogs you’ve come across.  (Oh, yeah, I plan to update my favorite sites and writers sidebars soon.  I don’t think I’ve messed with it in four years and it is painfully out of date.)

ETA:  I made a correction above because it looked like I was damning with faint praise the true crime site I linked to.  Not the case, and thanks, reader known as ART, for e-mailing me questions because otherwise it would have gone unnoticed.  Bleah.

Published in: Uncategorized | on March 2nd, 2015 | 12 Comments »

Middle of the Road: I Like Being Killed and Vampires in the Lemon Grove

I really enjoyed my first attempt at writing brief discussions (well, for me they were brief) of books that had some odd element but were not good or bad enough to trigger my verbose need to discuss them in depth. I’m not sure why – maybe it was the thrill of completing an entry in a single sitting – but I’m going to keep doing it until I inevitably lose interest and go back to writing five thousand word entries for everything I read.

This particular entry is surprising because I adore short story collections. It’s really hard to disappoint me with short stories, mainly because even if there are one or two clunkers in the collection, there are bound to be a couple of stories that soar, and you can focus on those stories rather than focus on what didn’t really work. It’s strange that I found two separate short story collections completely lacking in merit, and, worse, these two collections came from authors whose other works appear in my long list of favorite books.

And this isn’t really a Middle of the Road entry because I am panning both books. I like both of the authors so much I don’t want to devote an entry to both books and give excruciating detail to prove my case as to why these are not so great. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: fiction, Short Story Collections | on February 18th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Stuff is happening, as well as things

So sorry for the silence on my end.  I’ve been writing quite a bit, so much in fact that I have written myself into a corner.  Every Cradle Is a Grave came into my life as I was experiencing death and the rage and depression death brings with it.  I have written over 20,000 words about the book and, though I am well-known for my wordiness, that is a wholly inappropriate number of words to use to discuss a book.  I am self-indulgent but luckily I still have a bit of self-awareness and now I am spending time editing so that I can present my frame of mind regarding the book without substituting my frame of mind for the book.  I will have the discussion up early next week.

I will also have another “middle of the road” discussion up either tomorrow or Thursday.

I’ve been immersed in some interesting media and topics this week, one of which turned into a rabbit-hole.  I follow the “Unresolved Mysteries” subreddit and a German user posted about a murder I had never heard of and as a result I have been scouring the Internet, reading crappy translations of old German news articles, finding every detail I can about it.  In 1998, thirteen year old Tristan Bruebach was murdered in such a sexually specific and audacious manner that I cannot believe I had not heard of this murder before and I also cannot believe this was the sole time the murderer performed such a killing. But against all logic, it seems like that is the case.  Seriously, three decades of reading and studying and I have never heard of a murder like this, and there are so many strange details about Tristan, his activities before his murder, and the way he was killed that even seasoned professional criminologists are baffled by the case.

I’ve also been listening to the Michigan band His Name Is Alive almost non-stop.  I don’t know how to describe this sort of music and the band has continually evolved since the late 80s so it’s hard to pigeon-hole the effort.  The only constant member of the band is Warren Defever, with different musicians and singers coming and going.

A friend of mine in college gave me a mixed tape with “Baby Fish Mouth” on it but it was the early 90s, no iTunes and precious little Internet outside of university labs, and tracking down small, indie bands was harder then. I finally got a copy of the album, Mouth by Mouth, and every song was worthwhile, which seldom ever seems to happen. The singer on this track, Karin Oliver, performed with HNIA for several years but evidently is now an account manager at a marketing firm.


“How Ghosts Affect Relationships” is from the album Livonia, released in 1990. It wasn’t until this album got uploaded to YouTube that I could access it. I don’t know if it’s rare or if it’s just that I wasn’t thorough. This is the best song on the album, I think, and it’s a little musical knife in my heart.


“How Dark Is Your Dark Side” is not the best song on Xmmer, a 2007 album, but I listen to it over and over because I love the singer, Andrea Morici. There is something sweetly hypnotic about her voice on this track. I think she may be the best vocalist to work with Defever.

So that’s where I am. Buried in hyperemotional reactions to a book about antinatalism, searching for information about a savagely murdered child, and listening to experimental rock. See you soon with a short entry about two short story collections that disappointed me sincerely.

Published in: Uncategorized | on February 17th, 2015 | 10 Comments »

Checking in!

I am at work on a discussion that is proving exhausting, but is strangely therapeutic given recent events in my life. I hope to have the discussion finished by the beginning of next week. At the risk of spoiling my upcoming review, Every Cradle Is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide by Sarah Perry is a book you need to get and read.  This book is a paradigm changer, and an important book for those of us who live in Western countries where it is difficult to discuss death intelligently, let alone suicide, let alone why suicide can ultimately be an act of great self-awareness.

I also received the latest Biblio-Curiosa edition, the excellent weird book/author ‘zine by Chris Mikul.  This issue focuses on children’s books and I can’t wait to read it.  Interestingly, I am also currently reading Mikul’s book on weird folk, The Eccentropedia: The Most Unusual People Who Have Ever Lived. The Eccentropedia caused me to start researching Eloise Bosquet, Baroness Wagner, a somewhat foul woman who brought a ton of drama and murder to the Galapagos Island chain, which then led to watching The Galapagos Affair on Netflix.

Adding to delays is that my book shift this year is taking longer than usual. At the beginning of each new calendar year, I make small changes to the ways my books are shelved, mainly because toward the end of the year Mr Oddbooks and I accumulate hundreds of new books, through gifts and Christmas shopping. These shifts entail emptying all shelves in order to clean them and then cleaning each book. I don’t know how many books we have because often books can get shelved before I document them, but I think we’re clocking in around 4,000 minimum. Given how easily distracted I have been, it’s taking me far longer to complete this task than anticipated.

I’ve also noticed that Pseudo Occult Media posted a few new entries in 2013. It looked like the site had been abandoned since 2010 so I hadn’t checked on it in a while, so these new entries were a pleasant surprise. I’ve referenced the site here before because even if one dismisses the notion that the Monarch Project has infested every tier of entertainment worldwide, the research that goes into the entries is something to behold. If you like people going on at length, which seems likely if you are reading here, Pseudo Occult Media will be right up your alley.  If nothing else, the author of the site shows how little originality there is in visual media. Once you read this site you’ll become annoyed at how often you see checkerboards, butterflies, Alice in Wonderland themes, faces half-occluded by hair or in mirrors, and broken mirrors in music videos, model spreads, movies and television.

Hopefully I will see you all early next week. Feel free to use the comments here to let me know what you’re reading/watching/listening to/avoiding.

Published in: Uncategorized | on February 4th, 2015 | 14 Comments »

Middle of the Road – Hollow City, I Am Not a Serial Killer and Lexicon

I have a tendency to go on at length about the books I discuss here on IROB and that tendency generally means I don’t discuss anything that doesn’t inspire verbosity. Sometimes that bugs me and I’ve decided to start posting what are for me brief reviews of books that were somewhat odd or strange but, for whatever reason, didn’t spark in-depth discussion but were still on some level worth discussing. I’ll try this on and see how it feels.

So here are some books that I want to discuss without blowing a 2K word count per review. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: fiction, Horror, photography, Young Adult | on January 22nd, 2015 | 5 Comments »

Person by Sam Pink

Book: Person

Author:  Sam Pink

Type of Book:  Fiction, alt lit

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd:  Because I thought it was going to suck a’plenty and was pleasantly proven wrong.

Availability:  Published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2010, you can get a copy here:

(WHOOT! As of Tuesday evening, it appears as if the Kindle version of this book is free. Check it out!)

Comments: Back when I bought a copy of Shoplifting from American Apparel, I also bought a copy of Person by Sam Pink.  Since my first exposure to alt lit resulted in what can only be called a complete nervous book-down, I was understandably reluctant to read Pink.  Lin’s SfAA filled me with such disgust that had I read anything similar immediately afterward and then discussed it I would have needed a new anus.

But a few years have passed, and the fire of my hatred has dimmed.  Also, Person is a slim volume and tempted me after I had finished The Goldfinch, which, as much as I love Donna Tartt, was a brick, and a very tiresome brick at around page 550.  I needed something easy and something quick and there Person was, in my nightstand cupboard, nestled in with far longer and more outrageous fare.  So I decided to just hold my nose and jump into Person and see what happened.

Person and SfAA are very similar books.  Both feature disaffected, grubby young protagonists.  Both books mine the same disenchanted hipster veins.  The very structures of the books down to the sentence formations are similar. So how come I really like Person?

It’s difficult to explain, and because I recently got my winter clothes out (Jesus, I began this discussion back in mid-November – ugh!), I think I have a decent enough explanation.  You know how it is that one red sweater can make you look like a porcelain-skinned angel and another red sweater can make you look like a chapped potato?  They’re both red, just different reds.  But you know, that analogy is a bad one because the red that makes me look like someone’s ruddy Irish nanna isn’t innately a shitty color and the one that makes me look like I’ve never once had a sunburn isn’t innately a heavenly color.  By any sane standard, SfAA is a terrible book.  I guess what I am saying here is that for the most part I hate most alt lit (and increasingly the writers behind the genre), but you can’t judge a book by its color just because some colors look better than others.  And if it seems like I am being completely incoherent so that pompous tenured professors working in the Corn Belt can insult me because every extemporaneous book discussion needs to be indistinguishable from a doctoral thesis, that isn’t what’s happening.  Nope.  Not at all.

Still, I think I can make a case for why it is that Person is such a better book.  Or at least a book worth reading. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: alt lit, fiction | on January 21st, 2015 | 8 Comments »