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Strangest novel

Wabbit

New Member
What is the strangest novel or novels you have read?

I'm going for Amnesia Moon by Johnathan Lethem!

Here is a short description. This is taken from an Amazon review ( not mine ) and they summed it up very well so going to use that :)

Firstly, to suggest this is a science fiction novel is to do it a disservice - I think that there are some echoes of Philip K. Dick, but this is more surrealism than sci-fi. It reminds me of the dream narratives of Leonora Carrington particularly. I think there's a little Kafka in there too.

The central themes are identity, reality and memory. As the tale progresses, the identity of the main character slips and slides as he tries to recover who he really is. Things are confused by the fractured nature of reality - you're left to wonder whether he's dreaming the whole thing, whether the dreams of others are mutating his reality - or whether the very nature of reality itself has broken down in some more 'real' sense. This is certainly a scenario in most Dick narratives - but I think Lethem handles it in a more sophisticated way.

That really doesn't tell you though how strange the novel is. The reality is totally fractured. As he moves from place to place the reality of any given place is totally different and twisted. The people living in that reality are not even aware that the reality they are living in is twisted and strange.

Very intelligent and strange novel dealing with questions of identity, truth and reality itself. The other novel I have read by him called Gun with occasional music is also pretty damn strange. Great author so if you have not tried him then and want something thats surreal, mind bending, and deals with a lot of deep questions then he is your man :)

What is your strangest novel?
 

funes

New Member
Boy, at first I thought this was no contest - thinking of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds or The Third Policeman. But, the more I think about it, there are some pretty strong contenders. Samuel Beckett's trilogy Malloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable are bizarre - or Virginia Woolf's The Waves.
I actually didn't find Gun with Occasional Music all that strange. Maybe because I had just come off reading Eric Garcia's Anonymous Rex, in which dinosaurs still walk among us (much reduced in size by evolution) wearing elaborate neoprene disguises and getting high on household spices. (For what it is worth, Rex was very well written - Garcia got the hard-boiled detective thing just right, even though his gumshoe is actually a Tyrannosaurus Rex.)
And, of course, there is Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy.
Still, though, I am going to have to go with Flann O'Brien.
 

Wabbit

New Member
Yeah, Gun with occasional music isn't all that strange. If you want strange do check out his other novel that I mentioned Amnesia Moon!

Like the sound of Anonymous Rex! Will have to add it to my "buy it list" :)
 

Ashlea

New Member
House of Leaves was about the strangest I've encountered. But maybe it's just in my mind b/c I just finished it.
 

funes

New Member
Yeah, Gun with occasional music isn't all that strange. If you want strange do check out his other novel that I mentioned Amnesia Moon!

Like the sound of Anonymous Rex! Will have to add it to my "buy it list"

Oddly enough, Amnesia Moon is on my TBR list, along with about 100 other titles. I will say that if you liked Gun, you should love either Anonymous Rex or Casual Rex. In an odd way, I found Garcia's dinos more believable as characters than Lethem's genetically engineered critters. I am waiting anxiously for his third Hot and Sweaty Rex to come out in paperback.
 

Zolipara

New Member
"Against the grain" by Joris-Karl Huysmans is without a doubt the strangest book i have encountered.

The main (and basically only character) in this book is looking on others with disdain and decides that he has "no hope of linking up with a mind which, like his own, took pleasure in a life of studious decrepitude; no hope of associating an intelligence as sharp and wayward as his own with that of an author or scholar."
So he buys a house in the countryside seeking to isolate himself with the few books he considers worthwile to read for a mind like his. His idea is to reject everything that is "natural" and concentrate on art and artifice. He lives in complete solitude, barely interrupted by a couple of silent servants. The protagonist, Des esseintes, is the ultimate dropout.

This book defined the decadence, and you can find many references to it in "The picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. When they talk about "the wonderful book" they are talking of "Against the grain".
 

Scratchy

New Member
How readable is Against the Grain, Zolipara? I've always wondered what book they were referring too... Thanks for the info!

I think the strangest book I've ever read is still Angela Carter's The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman. The only other one I can think of now is Iain Bank's The Wasp Factory. Although, I really don't think "strange" is the right word to describe these 2 books; more like really, really fucked up.
 

Wabbit

New Member
Ah! How could I have forgotten???? One of the most bizaare novels ever! Report on probability A by Brian W Aldiss.

DAMN DAMN DAMN strange.

This review I found on the net sums it up really well :)

Aldiss' New Wave masterpiece is Report On Probability A. The epitomy of an anti-novel, Report On Probability A is a no frills description of the observations of the house owned by Mr. Mary and his enticing wife by three protaganists known only as S, G, and C. Why they are observing and what the disaster is whose shadow is cast over the proceedings are treated as irrelevancies and ignored. The minuteae of all the involved's lives are the only thing; the act of observation is the only plot. The science fiction happens when it becomes apparent that there are Other watchers, and watchers watching those watchers, stretching back to what seems to be citizens of our own reality. Report On Probability A is about the metaphor of circular vision, manifested in the narrative by the round fields of view of the various optical devices and windows through which S, G, and C observe their world, expanding macrocosmically with the vast circle of observers observing the observers. As banality merges with paranoia, drawn only by whatever the reader brings to the narrative, there is no conclusion, no story, only facts. The story returns over and over to the painting The Hireling Shepherd by Holman Hunt, which becomes a recurring unresolved image which has no final meaning, only whatever speculation it's benighted observers bring to bear on it. Every character is searching for a meaning which may, or may not, exist as actual Truth. Behind each level of truth lies another; who is to say how far the chain goes or which part of it is more Actual?

To call Report On Probability A an anti-novel may be true, but does it a great disservice. The simplicity of the "story" masks an investigation into uncertainty and the nature of reality itself. The seeming bankruptcy of plot opens the reader to question the act of observation, of reporting, of writing itself. Truth is what Report On Probability A is all about, and Aldiss points out that it is a plastic thing that depends on who is trying to figure it out, and an ambiguous thing that may, at it's root, be unknowable.
 

funes

New Member
I've never read any Aldiss, but the plot summary makes it sound very similar to Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy. If I remember correctly, he often wrote stories and novels which consisted of nothing other than the bare reportage of empirical facts. The implication being that the reader would be forced to provide the context - and, to an extent, the story.
I thought of Robbe-Grillet's narrator, in the case of Jealousy, as suffering from a sort of crisis of Cartesian doubt.
 

Zolipara

New Member
Scratchy said:
How readable is Against the Grain, Zolipara? I've always wondered what book they were referring too... Thanks for the info!

I loved it but it can be a bit hard to read. There isnt much happening in the book. You just follow Des esseintes around as he designs his house so that he never wants to leave it again. Be prepared for long descriptions of his favourite boks, the flowers he has, how he paints the rooms to set his mood etc. A chapter even describes how he paints his turtle to fit in with the furniture. He has the shell painted in gold and sets a variety of jewels in it.
 

Scratchy

New Member
LOL, I think I'll get the book entirely for this:
Zolipara said:
A chapter even describes how he paints his turtle to fit in with the furniture. He has the shell painted in gold and sets a variety of jewels in it.
That's hilarious! Thanks once again Zolipara! Will go check it out at Amazon later.
 

Grammath

New Member
The collected works of Bo Fowler - two novels and counting thus far:

SCEPTICISM, INC (taken from the book jacket)
The narrator of this brilliantly original novel was made on November 3, 2022, in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Chelmsford. After three weeks of childhood he is sent to work in ShopAlot, St Pancras, next to the most famous little church in the world. He's a supermarket trolley with a faith in God.
In the church he meets Edgar Malroy, founder of Scepticism Inc., owner of the Metaphysical Betting Shop, soon to be the richest man in the world. Edgar takes bets on metaphysical propositions and never loses; but Edgar's Achilles' heel is his love for Sophia, a ridiculously beautiful woman who thinks she is a messenger from God.

THE ASTROLOGICAL DIARY OF GOD (amazon.co.uk review)
A review should summarise and evaluate: give the potential reader a sense of what the book is about and whether it is any good. The Astrological Diary of God baffles both these modest aims. To say that it is about an enormously overweight Japanese ex-Kamikaze fighter pilot who believes himself to be the Supreme Being and who has founded a new religion based on astrology--a character who is kept under lock and key by the American Government in Fort Knox and put on trial for the "murder of time"--to say this does not convey one tenth of the riches of this hilarious, philosophical and deeply strange book. Evaluation is difficult too: for stretches Fowler does achieve something of the superb brain-burned intensity of his mentor, Kurt Vonnegut (and in particular Vonnegut's brilliant Breakfast of Champions which this novel most closely resembles). Just as often, though, the mixture of spaced-out prose, astrological diagrams, drawings and photographs (including a striking picture of the genitalia of God, a picture which turns out to be something else by the end) can leave the reader not quite knowing how to react. This novel is challenging, strange, funny and extremely readable. Fiction doesn't come much hipper.

Synopsis
Japs Eye Fontanelle is an 88-year-old, overweight, retired Japanese Kamikaze pilot who insists he is the rightful king of the Holy Channel Island of Jersey, and Creator of the Universe. He writes his life story under armed guard inside a mobile home where he's being held for the killing of Time.
 

Erica

New Member
House of Leaves
I opened it! :eek: closed it! :eek: and there it sits on the TBR pile :eek:
Feel bad as it was bought for me :(
 

Stewart

Active Member
At the moment, I'm reading House of Leaves.

It's style certainly makes it the strangest for style and presentation.
 

Stewart

Active Member
I'm only two chapters into House of Leaves but I'm enjoying what I have read thus far and I'm looking forwarding to getting to the further pages.

Note to self....buy a mirror. :(
 
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