List-O-Rama: Embracing the Weird
I have a soft spot for bizarro stories. You know what I mean, the weird, but captivating, tale that you never fully understand but like nonetheless. Here are a few of our recommendations for the next time you want to embrace the weird.
Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge (Candlewick, Oct. 8, 2013)
Ron Koertge specializes in strange stories and he's an author whose books reliably work for me. Koertge's known for his verse novels, but this is more of a fractured prose (my term) style that works for this odd little story of a boy who seeks, and receives, divine intervention in coping with his brother's death. This is an irreverent little story with one of the more unusual doses of magical realism I've read. It's a short book at 128 pages, so if you're looking for something completely outside your normal wheelhouse that'll make you laugh, check out Coaltown Jesus.
I also recommended Koertge's Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses, a collection of fairytales retold in poetry, if you're looking for more Koertge weirdness.
Ghost Time by Courtney Eldridge (Amazon Skyscape, June 2013)
I'm not entirely sure if I liked Courtney Eldridge's Ghost Time. It took me a million years to read and I didn't realize it was the first in a trilogy until I checked on Goodreads, so the very incomplete storyline was quite jarring. (Yo, publishers! Please note somewhere, anywhere, if a book is part of series!) Plus, the 15 year old narrator, Thea, does not ring true--she's definitely more of an older teen voice. (I'd guess that Ghost Time was not originally written for a YA audience, but was marketed as such because of the current publishing climate--but that's just a guess.)
With all of that said, I very much appreciated the tangled up time shift of Ghost Time (the chapters are identified based on their distance from the disappearance of Thea's boyfriend) and the close first-person point-of-view that means the reader is often as in the dark as the narrator is about what's exactly happening. I also enjoyed that Ghost Time is the definition of a genre-bending novel. I can't even begin to say what genre it fits into, except to say it's definitely weird.
Alaska by Sue Saliba (Penguin Australia, June 2011)
Unlike Ghost Time, Alaska is fairly straightforward in its narrative. Instead, its weirdness stands out through the writing, which is also that fractured prose form shared with Coaltown Jesus--plus there are no capital letters, which sounds weird, and I would normally hate, but it actually works.
In Alaska, an Australian teen follows her sister to Alaska, which is mysterious and exotic to her. The quiet, the wildness, it's all new and different and exciting. The story is told in brief snippets of dialogue and tiny scenes, almost like a play. It's weird, yes, but it's also effectively evocative in a way I'd not experienced previously.
Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean (Simon Pulse, 2012)
Carolee Dean's paranormal novel in verse includes the following: a random screenplay, a rap about Poe's the Raven AND Tupac, ghosts. It also deals with some weighty issues (bullying and harassment, namely), but the odd, though effective, form is what stuck with me long after I finished reading Forget Me Not.
Anonymous Rex (series) by Eric Garcia (Berkeley 1999)
I recommended this book to Matt in our old Book Matchmaker series (someday I will revive that series, but in a different way--those posts were incredibly labor-intensive), and my comments from back then still stand: this is a crazyass series and it makes no sense, but it's fabulous. Dinosaurs dressed as humans are strung out on basil and walk among. It's weird.
Chuck Wendig's Books (yes, all of them)
Chuck Wendig is the undisputed King of Weird, right? Read Laura's review of Blackbirds from last year if you need evidence.
Moone Boy (Hulu)
My husband and I watched the charmingly bizarre Moone Boy on Hulu this summer and adored it. I have been meaning to write an entire post about its weirdness and why it's so endearing, but needless to say, I never thought I'd love a show about a boy and his imaginary friend in 1980s Ireland so much. (That Chris O'Dowd is adorable doesn't hurt either--I'm just saying...)
(Moone Boy is only on Hulu in the U.S.)
LostLet's pretend the final season of Lost never happened, all right? Excepting that hot mess, Lost is probably my favorite television example of the weird vibe I love (sorry Twin Peaks). Embarrassingly, I didn't become a Lost junkie until somewhere around the fourth season, when a friend of mine and I both binge-watched the show, comparing notes nearly daily. Smoke monsters, creepy hatches and mysterious airplanes, oh my!
(Lost is streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.)
All right, there are some of my go-to recommendations for anyone looking for something weird. I'd love your suggestions, whether it be books, television or movies (and here's where I realize that Mulholland Drive is woefully absent from this list).