There was the 24in48 read-a-thon. A wedding. A night of no sleep. A tearful airport departure. This weekend was eventful.
First off, congratulations to my brother and his wife on their wedding. It was a nice day, and, aside from being in the wedding party, I can only imagine I was welcomed in Church due to my current long-haired-and-bearded resemblance to classical paintings of Christ. We ate far too much food, and I received far too many drunken embraces from people I had never previously met (including an invitation to take turns throwing small axes at each other’s feet, an invitation I respectfully declined).
Friday night was a post-wedding sort of adrenaline flow that comes from 13-hour days, four hours worth of pictures, and music loud enough to cause migraines. Saturday was when I was able to get the bulk of my 24 in 48 reading done, which included Paul Tremblay’s brilliant A Head Full of Ghosts. Part-Danielewski, part-Stephen Graham Jones, and part-Shirley Jackson with plenty of other bits and pieces mixed in, A Head Full of Ghosts nods at almost every conceivable horror source while still being its own novel. Is it demons or mental illness? You’re never sure how anything will work whether you’re on the first page or last. It came highly recommended to me, and I pass on my high recommendations to you. I haven’t been that sucked into a novel in a long time, perhaps not since House of Leaves.
It was one of those books that I really had to sit and think through afterwards. You know the kind–for a few moments, it’s almost inconceivable to read anything else for a few days. There are an incredible number of horror references that I would really like to go back and count at some point, and even many of the character names point back to previous horror entries. I’ll get to a longer review later on, but you should read it and bask in all of its deeply unsettling ambiance.
Sunday, I finished up A Head Full of Ghosts and started a soon-to-be-released novel called The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao, a strange little book received through Amazon’s Kindle First program, which I decided to read because it looked a bit unassuming. I’m still working my way through it with about 50 pages left to go, but it’s a pretty impressive first novel. I suppose I could poke some holes in the novel in terms of character development, pacing, and the strange, almost young-adult style of writing, but there’s moments of prose that really make things interesting, and the prose floats like a breeze.
There’s one point where a voice is described as “tomato soup,” a description that reminded me of Raymond Carver’s description of “creamy fingers” in his short story “Fat.” The Oddfits seems part-Hitchiker’s Guide, and, in a way, part-Gogol, almost like Mugatroyd Floyd is a version of Gogol’s Akaky Akakievich from “The Overcoat,” but there’s an interesting inverted othering going on here as well that, in a sense, reminds me of Naipaul. It’s pretty fascinating, and I suspect I’ll have to look through it again at a later date to really pick up on some of the nuances.
I keep oscillating back and forth in my opinion. On one hand, I was intrigued–I wanted to know what happened. The reading was quick and light. On the other, I felt like I was beaten over the head with how much Mugatroyd’s life sucks. That’s part of the novel’s humor, but, at the same time, it felt a little unfocused, especially the ending. Of course, this is the first in a series, so I can’t be too upset about a lack of overall development. Take a look for yourself.
From the back:
Eight-year-old Murgatroyd Floyd doesn’t fit in — not as a blue-eyed blonde living in Singapore, not in school, and certainly not with his aloof expatriate parents, who seem determined to make his life even harder. Unbeknownst to him, there’s a reason why he’s always the odd boy out: he is an Oddfit, a rare type of human with access to the More Known World, a land invisible to most people. Yet unfortunate circumstances keep Murgatroyd stranded in the Known World, bumbling through life with the feeling that an extraordinary something is waiting for him just beyond reach.
Seventeen years later, that something finally arrives when a secret organization dedicated to exploring the More Known World invites Murgatroyd on a mission. But as the consummate loser begins to grow into the Oddfit he was meant to be, the Known World becomes bent on exterminating him. For once in his underachieving life, will Murgatroyd Floyd exceed expectations and outsmart those trying to thwart his stupendous destiny?
I promised a tearful airport departure. I didn’t forget. My (twin) brother’s girlfriend had flown in from Columbus for the wedding. She arrived on Wednesday evening and left last night, leaving both in tears. It’s tough to see, but my brother has already made plans to visit next month, so they both ended up on a cheerful (albeit tearful) note.
Keep reading, and don’t forget about Thrifty Thursday. Maybe some reviews soon.