Tag Archives: weird

Diary Comic: Misheard

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America by Julian Montague

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America by Julian Montague: This is one of those books shelved in the humor section only because most bookstores don’t have a WTF section. It is, in short, exactly what the title suggests: a study of shopping carts that have escaped their shops and parking lots. The subject matter is taken so seriously and each cart categorized so meticulously that it’s difficult to accept that this is all truly meant as a joke. I read the entire thing, though, and actually quite enjoyed the photography. There’s a certain beauty to the urban decay represented here. My favorite category, of which there was far too little, was “complex vandalism” – and more specifically, the cart somehow launched atop a street sign. I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend this book to anyone, but I suppose there is a certain sort of person whose book collection would be incomplete without it. Find them, and give them this book.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants

Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants: Oliver is an outreach counselor for the mentally ill, which mainly involves making sure they get to their doctor appointments. His clients include Abbey, who may or may not have multiple personalities; Greg, who may or may not be turning into his therapist; and Doc, who may or may not be communicating with aliens who demand Big Macs. Meanwhile, the ultra-charismatic Jeremy, who may or may not be Jesus, has opened a new age shop and started a television show on public access to spread his message of selfishness. Confused? Believe it or not, the story wasn’t so difficult to follow as long as you just went with it, accepting whatever bizarre new twist was thrown at you. (I’ve found a similar approach is helpful when reading Douglas Adams novels.) This is a bizarre tale of religion, drugs, sex, extraterrestrials, mental illness, and fast food, full of cynical humor and truly strange characters. I would suggest that anyone who is very sensitive about any of these issues (most especially religion) give this one a miss, but if you’re more cynical and/or apathetic, you might find the insanity rather enjoyable. I’ll be curious to see if Commander Pants writes anything else, or if he chooses a different pen name for each novel.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Perfume by Patrick Suskind: This is the life story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man with superhuman olfactory senses but no body odor of his own. The whole tale is abundantly strange, from Grenouille’s unusual birth to the string of bodies he leaves in his wake, whether he knows it or not. He reminds me somewhat of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. I would advise against reading while eating, as many of the scent descriptions are vivid and unpleasant. Grenouille experiences the world through his nose, and the world of 18th-century France was quite odoriferous. The weirdness of the story escalates at the end, until I started having trouble swallowing it. It was like the whole theme of the narrative shifted for the last few chapters. And if you look at it from that angle, the ending is (mostly) logical and satisfying, but most of the story leading up to it didn’t quite fit. That said, I flew through this book and was fascinated by the idea of telling a story chiefly through scent. And it is indeed told well. I’m just not sure to whom I’d recommend it. Perhaps people who like dark and weird fiction.

Now I’m terribly curious to see how they managed to make a movie out of a novel built around smells.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner

The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner: Um. Well, this takes place in post-Soviet Russia, and is more or less about three widows – an Eastern Orthodox Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew – who all live in the same condemned apartment building with their children. Christian Lukeria torments her overweight granddaughter Tanya who spends a lot of her time obsessing over clouds and colors; Muslim Azade learns people’s secrets by smelling their excrement and worries over where she went wrong with her son Vitek; Jewish Olga frets over the fate of her idiot son Yuri and his selfish girlfriend Zoya. Also, there’s a gaggle of feral children running around. The book begins with the suicide of Mircha, Azade’s husband, whose ghost shows up soon after to cause mischief. Much of the actual plot revolves around the local museum where Yuri, Zoya, and Tanya all work. None of the exhibits are originals, and in fact most were created by Tanya herself out of candy wrappers and glue. However, when the possibility arises of a grant from some wealthy Americans, the entire apartment building is in a tizzy. The ending is happy – more or less – though it feels forced and borders on deus ex machina. This is the sort of novel where you have to just absorb things as they come and not approach it expecting some sort of coherent storyline. Mostly it’s about a group of characters, and much of the book is spent explaining their personalities, motivations, and histories. And that’s usually fine by me, except that this time around everyone was so exceptionally screwed up that I couldn’t muster the least bit of sympathy for any of them. Perhaps another reader would find it darkly humorous but mostly I was just glad when it was over.

Also posted on BookCrossing.
Read as part of the Books Won Reading Challenge.

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