Shiny Happy People Read Absurdist Fiction
The Happiest People in the World is a novel by Brock Clarke, and the opening took me by surprise-- I've been reading a lot of non-fiction and realistic fiction and realistic crime fiction lately, and I forgot how absurd a novel can be-- the beginning of the book is observed by a stuffed moose head in a local bar: it is a scene of great violence, and then things just keep getting weirder from there; there are CIA agents, a Danish political cartoonist on the lam posing as a guidance counselor, spies in disguise, terrorists, wannabe terrorists, rogue agents, small town lugnuts, disaffected veterans, and all sorts of other folks, interacting at a breakneck pace-- the plot shifts, the point of view shifts, the tone shifts, and-- despite the absurdity-- it's impossible to stop reading, which is a great reminder that if things are structured right, and the sentences are well-written, then a novel can take you on a far wilder ride than a movie . . . I read a lot of this stuff long ago: Thomas Pynchon and Tom Robbins and John Barth and Italo Calvino and Kurt Vonnegut . . . and then I got old and started reading books about economics and technology, so this was a nostalgic trip back to my old reading ways, when I really had no idea what was going on: both in my life and the books that I read.