BOOK REVIEW: Sheeple’ by Simon Carr

Sheeple'Sheeple’ by Simon Carr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars Page

This is an absurdist sci-fi hero’s journey, featuring an everyman, Jim, who discovers that not only is the world not at all what it appears to be, he is far from what he believes himself to be. The world is as the conspiracy kooks see it, Jim is Satan’s spawn, and it will fall to him and his mildly villainous cohort to save the world from another — also semi-evil — faction.

Absurdist stories can get away with all sorts of deus ex machina happenings and logical inconsistencies that would never fly in other genres. This book capitalizes on this fact to some degree. However, one can only really get away with those problematic story elements if the book is: 1.) a laugh-riot of hilarity – such that the reader doesn’t notice or care about those “defects,” or 2.) carefully composed be clear in the face of the bizarreness that is part and parcel of the genre. This book is fully neither. Don’t get me wrong; it’s an amusing story with some genuinely humorous events and turns of phrase. However, it also has more fun with plays on the word “Uranus” than anyone other than an eight-year-old boy has a right to have. While it has its moments, some of the humor feels forced, and so the overall effect isn’t likely to remind readers of the work of Douglas Adams.

If you’re looking for a carefree read that will give you a chuckle here and there, give this book a look. But I can’t say that I got drawn into it to the point that I was desensitized to its spasticity.

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POEM: A World of Loathing

a cat abhors a vacuum
vacuums abhor tangled hair
tangled hair abhors a hairbrush
hairbrushes abhor Victorian Spanking Fetishists
Victorian Spanking Fetishists abhor Victorian prudism
prudism abhors immodesty
immodesty abhors modesty
modesty abhors whores
whores abhor cheapskates
cheapskates abhor expenses
expenses abhor ledgers
ledgers abhor ink pens
ink pens abhor writers
writers abhor synonyms
synonyms abhor antonyms
antonyms abhor continuums
and so on...

it's true that Eddie Rabbitt
loves a rainy night,
but who loves Eddie Rabbitt?

[the Coalition for 
Names with Double-Letters,
that's who!] 

BOOK REVIEW: Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy by Bradley Sands

Sorry I Ruined Your OrgySorry I Ruined Your Orgy by Bradley Sands

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amazon page

Contrary to the title, this isn’t an etiquette primer on how to make amends for a poor performance at a friend’s sexual soiree. It’s a collection of absurdist flash fiction that takes its name from a its introductory story in which a man shows up to an orgy wearing a bear costume and proceeds to behave badly.

Most of these stories are under a page long and few are longer than three pages. The stories don’t make sense, and are not intended to. (If they do make sense, the author has failed.) Instead, they are designed to subvert expectations to the maximum extent possible. Subverted expectations being the foundation of humor, there will be chuckles. However, it’s not just humor. It’s about defying one’s ability to judge what’s around the next corner by resisting any temptation to observe socio-cultural conventions about what could possibly and properly come next. Like spoken word acts, these stories are meant to invoke a response in the reader by surprises of language—often jarring surprises—more than by way of meaning.

If you are the type who doesn’t take words too seriously and take to absurdity like it’s a Zen koan, you might enjoy this brief work for the tickling it gives one’s mind. If you’re the type who takes words very seriously and are prone to get bent out of shape by “inappropriate” or loose word use, you will hate it and should avoid the trauma of reading it.

I’ll elaborate on my last statement. Irreverence, impiety, and a proclivity for the shocking are a few of the characteristics that go hand-in-hand with subverting expectations and conventions. Because of this, there’s a fair amount of profanity and jarring concepts included in the mix. I’ll offer one example of such a jarring concept that’s included in the book: “rape camp.” If you’re prone to be offended by the loose use of the word “rape,” then probably the only more reprehensible phrase than “rape camp” would be “rape fiesta” (though, to be fair, in the book a rape camp is more like a concentration camp than a summer camp.)

As a litmus test of how you’ll respond to this work, imagine opening a Hallmark card and reading the following sentence as contained in this book, “Sorry your grandma died! She molested me when I was eight.” If—despite realizing that it’s so wrong—you can’t help but grin, you’ll like this book. If your impulse is to write the author hate mail, you should avoid reading it.

It should be noted that the book is not all rape, molestation, and orgies. The book mostly consists of less prurient attempts to achieve the unexpected and/or shocking.

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