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With the literary muscle of Victor LaValle's Big Machine and the outlandish humor of Kevin Smith's Dogma, this debut reveals the dark underbelly of the NY literary scene. At thirty, Billy Ridgeway still hasn't gotten around to becoming a writer; he thinks too much to get anything done, really, except making sandwiches at a Greek deli with his buddy Anil. But the Devil shows With the literary muscle of Victor LaValle's Big Machine and the outlandish humor of Kevin Smith's Dogma, this debut reveals the dark underbelly of the NY literary scene. At thirty, Billy Ridgeway still hasn't gotten around to becoming a writer; he thinks too much to get anything done, really, except making sandwiches at a Greek deli with his buddy Anil. But the Devil shows up with fancy coffee one morning, promising to make Billy's dream of being published come true: as long as Billy steals The Neko of Infinite Equilibrium, a cat-shaped statue with magical powers, from the most powerful warlock in the Eastern United States. The Devil's bidding sends Billy on a wild chase through New York City, through which Billy discovers his own strength, harnessing his powers as a hell-wolf and finally fighting the warlock face-to-face. God even makes a guest appearance, and He's not who you thought He was. Bushnell's stunningly imaginative debut is about finding meaning in life, confronting your biggest critics, and discovering that a boring life might be the best life of all.


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With the literary muscle of Victor LaValle's Big Machine and the outlandish humor of Kevin Smith's Dogma, this debut reveals the dark underbelly of the NY literary scene. At thirty, Billy Ridgeway still hasn't gotten around to becoming a writer; he thinks too much to get anything done, really, except making sandwiches at a Greek deli with his buddy Anil. But the Devil shows With the literary muscle of Victor LaValle's Big Machine and the outlandish humor of Kevin Smith's Dogma, this debut reveals the dark underbelly of the NY literary scene. At thirty, Billy Ridgeway still hasn't gotten around to becoming a writer; he thinks too much to get anything done, really, except making sandwiches at a Greek deli with his buddy Anil. But the Devil shows up with fancy coffee one morning, promising to make Billy's dream of being published come true: as long as Billy steals The Neko of Infinite Equilibrium, a cat-shaped statue with magical powers, from the most powerful warlock in the Eastern United States. The Devil's bidding sends Billy on a wild chase through New York City, through which Billy discovers his own strength, harnessing his powers as a hell-wolf and finally fighting the warlock face-to-face. God even makes a guest appearance, and He's not who you thought He was. Bushnell's stunningly imaginative debut is about finding meaning in life, confronting your biggest critics, and discovering that a boring life might be the best life of all.

30 review for The Weirdness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    **Oh get this: Melville House is partnering with Brooklyn Roasting Co to offer a limited-edition coffee blend inspired by this book. Their publicity dept is so so smart.** Anyway, on to the book. If you, like me, are someone who spends all your time either reading books or reading about books, it's increasingly impossible to come to something with zero preconceptions. And I suppose I can't say I came to The Weirdness with actually zero preconceptions; I did decide to buy it, out of all the hundre **Oh get this: Melville House is partnering with Brooklyn Roasting Co to offer a limited-edition coffee blend inspired by this book. Their publicity dept is so so smart.** Anyway, on to the book. If you, like me, are someone who spends all your time either reading books or reading about books, it's increasingly impossible to come to something with zero preconceptions. And I suppose I can't say I came to The Weirdness with actually zero preconceptions; I did decide to buy it, out of all the hundreds of other $1 proofs for sale at the Strand, which something made me do. But other than an intriguing title and a publisher I mostly love (Melville House), I really didn't have anything else. I didn't read the back cover copy, didn't try to sleuth out anything about it, didn't even check GR to see who'd read it already and what they thought. And let me tell you, that was such a fantastic bit of luck. Because this book's strength, for me, was how consistently surprising it was, how much the plot kept changing, and in such unexpected ways—some of which, sadly, are revealed right on the back of the book. And here I am, the second person on all of GR to review this, and what can I do to preserve that experience for everyone else? Well, I can do my best to tell you as little as possible while still getting you excited enough to grab this little guy as soon as it's on sale. Here we go: The Weirdness is the latest in the great (j/k) tradition of the (presumably autobiographical) bildungsroman starring a bumbling post-college struggling Brooklyn writer with a heart of gold. You know this guy, right? Even if you don't know him, you've read about him a lot, everywhere from Kyle Beachy's The Slide to Ben Kunkel's Indecision to Adele Waldman's The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. —to name just a very recent few. He's the cute and mostly lovable fuckup who is nursing a secret genius but is too mopish / lazy / earnest / self-deprecating / stoned to get his literary career off the ground. He's sad about his nascent career's nascency, he's dating up and is alternately overjoyed and suspicious about it, he's got a roommate who is either manlier or smarter or maybe ethnic-er, which is a constant source of frustration, etc. You have this guy in your head, right? And you know what a bore it's going to be to read another book about him. (As an aside: What is he called? Is there a clever term akin to "manic pixie dream girl" for this pretentious self-absorbed hipster shit?) Anyway, I would bet that Jeremy Bushnell started out writing just another one of those books—and then had the good sense to realize that it would be an awful idea, coupled with the cleverness to do something else. So within 20 pages he's moved from "hipster-fuckup morosing through his life" to "hipster-fuckup having coffee with the Devil, who just showed up in his living room yammering about a PowerPoint presentation while our hero was so totally hungover." This is only the first of several about-faces that you will almost certainly not see coming in this book, and that will make you smile and be impressed each time, as soon as you realize what's going on. The thing about this book is that it's so clever. Not dumb-funny like a sitcom with a canned laugh track, but clever in a really smart way, taking these overdone tropes and merrily twisting the shit out of them. It's like he's circling back and back, continually making gentle fun of the genre he's just skipped the book right out of. And meanwhile he also gets to make gentle fun of the whole demographic those books are aimed at, too—lampooning literary bloggers, religious inclusionism, stoners, the clear good-vs.-evil moral binary, poetry magazines, abstract filmmaking, and plenty more. Although when I started this review I was determined not to tell you anything at all about the book, I decided that instead I want to quote one passage, to give you a taste of the cleverness. I'm going to go ahead and put it behind a spoiler tag, though, in case you have the self-control to ignore it and just go pick up the goddamn book already. (view spoiler)[ So this is way in the beginning, when the Devil is trying to make his deal. "I wish for you to do something for me," Lucifer says. "It is a simple task which will require a minimal amount of your time. In exchange, I will do something for you." Billy allows himself to grow intrigued. "You'll do something for me? So, okay, wait. Exactly what?" "I can see to it that your book gets published," Lucifer says. A tiny burst of excitement spikes within Billy, which is almost immediately swallowed by a yawning chasm of skepticism. "Which book?" Billy says, cautiously. "The novel," Lucifer says. "There are people I can get to publish the novel. Short stories, though—that's a tough sell." BAHAHAHAHAHA (hide spoiler)] And as a bonus? The book, though fairly wacky by the end, is extremely carefully constructed. It's sad that I have to mention that specifically as an accolade, but publishing these days has become so unforgivably fucking sloppy, it's seriously rare to find a first-time novelist who actually knows how to put the pieces together—or who has had the great benefit of a terrific editor to help him do so. So in summation? A very fun, very clever, very impressive showing from Jeremy Bushnell. Definitely pick this up, and try not to read too much about it before you dive in, because the surprises are so much more fun when they're actually surprising.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    I do not give 5 stars lightly. But I cannot think of a single negative thing to say about this book. I wanted to read it all the time. It's bizarre and hilarious and thoughtful and just a joy to read. I am very hesitant to read any novel about a young aspiring writer living in Brooklyn. They tend to be an earlier version of the novel about a man in middle age reflecting on the mediocrity of his life, and I hate those books. These are just younger, douchier versions of the same men, so I probably I do not give 5 stars lightly. But I cannot think of a single negative thing to say about this book. I wanted to read it all the time. It's bizarre and hilarious and thoughtful and just a joy to read. I am very hesitant to read any novel about a young aspiring writer living in Brooklyn. They tend to be an earlier version of the novel about a man in middle age reflecting on the mediocrity of his life, and I hate those books. These are just younger, douchier versions of the same men, so I probably wouldn't have read THE WEIRDNESS were it not for the BIG MACHINE name-check in the summary. I loved BIG MACHINE, even if it didn't ultimately leave me fulfilled, I loved its ambition and craziness and the way I never knew what was going to happen. It's a good comparison. BIG MACHINE and THE WEIRDNESS are certainly kindred spirits when it comes to the world of novels. They take mundane people and put them in completely crazy situations where the rules of the universe no longer apply. In THE WEIRDNESS this lets you see Billy, the aforementioned writer who aspires to greatness while doing nothing to deserve it, and people like him and the literary scene of young artists in New York in a different light that's light and hilarious. The devil is involved. So are hellwolves and a demon-created Starbucks and warlocks and plenty more. I would happily read it again and I'll be recommending it to anyone who is into the literary scene while simultaneously being really annoyed by the literary scene.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    Okay, so - this was cute. With a very cute cover. It also was funny, with witty dialogues, likable hipsterish characters and well written - the author really has a way with words, reading it goes easily as singing do-re-mi-fa. But... this wasn't enough. I probably had my hopes for this book set too high or something, it looked so promising in the beginning. All the time while reading it I had a feeling that I'm going through a movie script, something very much Dogma-like, about saving the world Okay, so - this was cute. With a very cute cover. It also was funny, with witty dialogues, likable hipsterish characters and well written - the author really has a way with words, reading it goes easily as singing do-re-mi-fa. But... this wasn't enough. I probably had my hopes for this book set too high or something, it looked so promising in the beginning. All the time while reading it I had a feeling that I'm going through a movie script, something very much Dogma-like, about saving the world with occasional smartassing. And it's not that it was bad - I liked Dogma, but all I recall from Dogma is that angels have no private parts, and all I will recall from this story is going to be that Devil brings some seriously good coffee when visiting. And the ending - what the hell?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    I'm not really sure what to make of this book. I give it credit for being highly unusual, but it left me with far too many questions, and probably not the ones the author wants me to be asking. They certainly aren't the discussion questions for book groups included at the back of the book. The first question I've been pondering is, where is the line between a protagonist who is, say, "endearingly hapless" and one who is just plain TSTL? Billy Ridgeway walks a pretty narrow path between those two I'm not really sure what to make of this book. I give it credit for being highly unusual, but it left me with far too many questions, and probably not the ones the author wants me to be asking. They certainly aren't the discussion questions for book groups included at the back of the book. The first question I've been pondering is, where is the line between a protagonist who is, say, "endearingly hapless" and one who is just plain TSTL? Billy Ridgeway walks a pretty narrow path between those two possibilities, and I'm pretty sure that if he were a female lead character, the answer would come down firmly on the side of TSTL. So does he get extra slack for being an immature, useless, not terribly likable guy? If so, how come? My second question is, where is the line between "literary fiction" and "literary fiction pretending to be genre fiction?" Because I personally feel a bit cheated by the fantasy elements in this book. Some of them are interesting and colorful, but none of them felt really thought-through or lived-in. I can't really explain how all this stuff worked, how it was connected, or how any of it operated on a day-to-day basis, and it's all a bit hand-waved away at the end. Even the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium turns out to be just a MacGuffin. This is something of a standard coming-of-age/must-grow-up-and-get-my-act-together-at-last/must-finally-get-closer-to-my-father kind of story wrapped in some supernatural plot devices which just didn't entirely work for me. (view spoiler)[The ending-ending, where aspiring author Billy turns out to have written an entirely different kind of book from the one he was working on before the story started, also fell a bit flat for me, and also didn't feel satisfactorily tied into the moral questions this book raised in my mind, or the creative possibilities opened up by the supernatural aspect. (hide spoiler)] My third question is, when another character asks Billy, "What's the worst thing you've ever done?", and the line is echoed a few more times throughout the story, is this supposed to be a shout-out to Ghost Story, by Peter Straub? I hope it is. The biggest problem I had with this story was the lack of stakes -- stuff kept happening, there was supposedly a mission, but none of it felt particularly urgent or even very important. For me, reading this book was like multitasking -- if you're working on five things at once, which one is the "important" thing? Are any of them important? So you may be thinking at this point that I didn't like this book at all. But it was a very enjoyable and entertaining read, with a wry outlook and lots of laugh-out-loud-in-public funny bits combined with unexpected plot turns, and that all kept me zooming along. So if it sounds the least bit intriguing to you -- definitely read it. I'm certainly curious to see what Jeremy Bushnell does next after finishing this story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Harris

    Ever want to tell if a particular work is a writer's first novel? Check the plot. If the story is about a frustrated writer and the novel focuses on the circumstances that allow him to finally progress on his major work... odds are good that it's the author's first novel. (Even if it isn't, it seems like EVERY author is obligated to write at least one story about an author who's unable to work on his or her book. It's like how many Hollywood films are about men working out their relationships wit Ever want to tell if a particular work is a writer's first novel? Check the plot. If the story is about a frustrated writer and the novel focuses on the circumstances that allow him to finally progress on his major work... odds are good that it's the author's first novel. (Even if it isn't, it seems like EVERY author is obligated to write at least one story about an author who's unable to work on his or her book. It's like how many Hollywood films are about men working out their relationships with absent fathers.) So needless to say, I wasn't surprised to find out that The Weirdness was Jeremy Bushnell's first novel because... well it fits that trope to a T. And there are hints of first-novel-itis all over the place. The story is disjointed, with multiple plotlines and developments thrown in willy-nilly without much regard to the plot or the setting and barely explored once they ARE included. OK, so it starts off with the main character meeting the Devil. Excellent absurdist start, getting a little comedic magical realism going. Lucifer wants him to save the world by stealing a magic Lucky Cat. OK, fine, still with you there. But then when you throw in secret occult societies running web video series about supernatural cops, the literary scene in New York werewolves and the like without really exploring ANY of them... well it just reads like a list of things that Bushnell thought would be cool without much regard to making it all work together. And it's not like I have some sort of aversion to any of this - I like urban fantasy in all of it's forms, deadly serious to almost Britcom-like. But this never quite gels together. It's less of a coherent whole than a bunch of separate elements suspended in an increasingly strained concept, the urban fantasy equivalent of mediocre jello salad. If some of the extraneous plot elements had been discarded or blended together better, I would've enjoyed this more. As it is, it just didn't work for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Danger

    This book was perfectly okay, satisfying my quench for entertainment in the same way that, say, cotton candy satisfies my hunger. Tons of humor, likeable characters, a fast-moving plot (that somehow felt full and thin at the same time) keep the book breezy. What it suffers from, in my opinion, is trying to be “edgy” (which is fine) but while still trying to be as palatable to the masses as possible. So we end up something akin to a Marvel movie, in the literary form, a rollicking adventure that This book was perfectly okay, satisfying my quench for entertainment in the same way that, say, cotton candy satisfies my hunger. Tons of humor, likeable characters, a fast-moving plot (that somehow felt full and thin at the same time) keep the book breezy. What it suffers from, in my opinion, is trying to be “edgy” (which is fine) but while still trying to be as palatable to the masses as possible. So we end up something akin to a Marvel movie, in the literary form, a rollicking adventure that feels, ultimately, hollow. But I still enjoyed it! I enjoy Marvel movies too! My point is, it’s a silly story about writing cliques, Satan, and midlife crises. Not a bad book, by any means.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stacia

    In general, I tend to think of myself enjoying extremely modern/different/surreal fiction (plots/characters/etc... that don't fit the 'traditional' mold of what a book or story is) & actively seek it out. So, with that said, this book (to me) was weird-lite. ;-) Meaning, I guess, that it wasn't really a weird book for me but to those who are firmly rooted in traditional lit, this might push your boundaries a little bit. Imo, it was a good summer read -- entertaining & unpredictable with some fun In general, I tend to think of myself enjoying extremely modern/different/surreal fiction (plots/characters/etc... that don't fit the 'traditional' mold of what a book or story is) & actively seek it out. So, with that said, this book (to me) was weird-lite. ;-) Meaning, I guess, that it wasn't really a weird book for me but to those who are firmly rooted in traditional lit, this might push your boundaries a little bit. Imo, it was a good summer read -- entertaining & unpredictable with some funny &/or action bits tossed in. I liked that the ending was different & actually moved to a slightly denser level of thought, perhaps raising a few interesting questions. Fun, entertaining, reasonably unpredictable... & the Devil uses PowerPoint & drinks great coffee. What more can you ask for in a summer read? 3 to 3.5 stars. I think I found this book because I am trying to read books published by the companies listed in Flavorwire's 25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing. The Weirdness: A Novel is published by Melville House. Right now, it looks like they have a fun promo going -- a copy of the book along with a can of a custom-blend coffee. Lol. (And you're definitely going to want your own great cup of coffee on hand when reading this book because reading about the coffee-drinking in there is going to make you want some good coffee.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathrina

    First off, I am not the kind of reader who considers a publisher when reviewing a book, except when it comes to Melville House. I love those guys! They are engaged and interested in the books they publish and the readers that read them -- truly. A few years ago, when they published Penguin Lost and Death and the Penguin, they sponsored a contest for booksellers -- for every 25 copies you sell, they adopt a penguin in your name. How awesome! We saved two penguins at our store. Anyway, now our sto First off, I am not the kind of reader who considers a publisher when reviewing a book, except when it comes to Melville House. I love those guys! They are engaged and interested in the books they publish and the readers that read them -- truly. A few years ago, when they published Penguin Lost and Death and the Penguin, they sponsored a contest for booksellers -- for every 25 copies you sell, they adopt a penguin in your name. How awesome! We saved two penguins at our store. Anyway, now our store happened to pick this title as a favorite handsell. Someone told Melville, and now they're sending us cool Weirdness stuff -- including exclusive Weirdness coffee beans!!! --as handsell prizes. Love them. But that doesn't mean I read all their stuff. I picked this up because there were a dozen copies in front of me at work, and nary a customer in sight. I read 1/3 right there at the register, and liked it so much, I bought it to bring it home. I don't know this Jeremy Bushnell guy, but he sure grabbed my attention. You would think that the Faustian deal-with-the-devil story is too old and worn-out for any new spins, but Bushnell manages to make every sentence fresh and memorable. This book likely won't change your life, but it is a fun, creative, and hipster-smart diversion that speeds by in an instant and cleans the palate for headier fare later. The ending wasn't quite what I wanted, but worthwhile fun anyway.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    William Harrison Ridgeway is a 30 year old schlep who would like to be a writer, and writes enough to have a file of writing, but not so much that he can't carry it with him. He works making sandwiches in a NY deli. His roommate has disappeared, his girlfriend is tiring of him, and his best friend works next to him, wearing a hairnet, piling meat and chopped lettuce on breads. Until an Adversarial Manifestation sits on Billy's couch after brewing a pot of excellent coffee. This debut novel suffe William Harrison Ridgeway is a 30 year old schlep who would like to be a writer, and writes enough to have a file of writing, but not so much that he can't carry it with him. He works making sandwiches in a NY deli. His roommate has disappeared, his girlfriend is tiring of him, and his best friend works next to him, wearing a hairnet, piling meat and chopped lettuce on breads. Until an Adversarial Manifestation sits on Billy's couch after brewing a pot of excellent coffee. This debut novel suffers because I 1) read a lot, and 2) have a taste for weird that's funny, too. This book isn't weird enough. It has some funny bits (the chapter headings) but the contrast of ultimate evil and consummate good isn't there. Everyone in this book is schleppy. The devil may have a slightly better wardrobe, and the warlock a slightly dingier, but that's the breadth of it. I assume the Adversarial Manifestation uses breath mints to riposte the rank of his opponent. There are deals made and offered but none with the weight of eternity, or lasting inconvenience of significant duration. There is the possibility of the end of the world somewhere in the mix of pro- and an- tagonists, and that play could have been fun if the histogram had been steeper.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yodamom

    Unique and unexpected. This tempted by the Devil read is way out of the norm and very entertaining. I went into this book blind so I and no expectations. When I started reading I was intrigued by where this character who was at his bottom was going to go. He did not take the expected path and his reactions did not follow the well worn way of many others books. He is not a very likable guy nor is he unlikable, he's almost a shadow with all his doubts and missteps. I enjoyed it, it made me think a Unique and unexpected. This tempted by the Devil read is way out of the norm and very entertaining. I went into this book blind so I and no expectations. When I started reading I was intrigued by where this character who was at his bottom was going to go. He did not take the expected path and his reactions did not follow the well worn way of many others books. He is not a very likable guy nor is he unlikable, he's almost a shadow with all his doubts and missteps. I enjoyed it, it made me think about new things. I had my 19 year old daughter read it, a harsh critic, she thought is was weird at first but then became glued to it as well and ended it stating "that was a good book." Hard to define, hard to explain, so give it a try and cast your own vote.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Jeremy P. Bushnell, The Weirdness (Melville House, 2014) Full disclosure: I have known Jeremy IRL since the early nineties. When I started reading The Weirdness—and I have to admit, I was planning on finishing the novel I was in the middle of before starting this, but I'd left it at work on a day I had to go to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, and this had popped up in the mail the day before and so I had it sitting on the desk next to me and grabbed it—I had planned to use it as a time-k Jeremy P. Bushnell, The Weirdness (Melville House, 2014) Full disclosure: I have known Jeremy IRL since the early nineties. When I started reading The Weirdness—and I have to admit, I was planning on finishing the novel I was in the middle of before starting this, but I'd left it at work on a day I had to go to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, and this had popped up in the mail the day before and so I had it sitting on the desk next to me and grabbed it—I had planned to use it as a time-killer until I finished the novel I was actually reading at the time. You know how that goes. A week later, I had finished The Weirdness, and nothing else in my house save a cookbook had gotten any face time. I expected it to be a decent book—Jeremy and I wrote collaborative poetry together, I know the boy can write—but I was still unprepared for the book I got. Much of this has to do with its publisher. I am a huge fan of Melville House when they're publishing nonfiction (Melville House is the home of the mighty Trevor Paglen, after all), but my excursions into their fiction catalog have always left me less than satisfied. Until now. You will think you know what the title of The Weirdness signifies relatively early on. Billy Ridgeway, struggling writer (well, he still believes so) and neurotic, wakes after a long night of drinking with his best friend Anil and meditating on the presence of bananas at bodegas to find the devil in his living room. No soul-stealing required, the devil explains while sipping coffee (which turns out to be infernally good); perform one minor task and Lucifer will put a few words into a few ears, and poof, Billy Ridgeway will be a published novelist. It's a tempting offer. But then, as Lucifer reminds Billy a few times during the novel, that's what the devil does; he tempts people. The question is—does temptation trump neurosis? There's more going on under the hood here as well. Ridgeway's relationship with an experimental filmmaker has stagnated, and he finds himself scrambling to save it while at the same time being drawn to a poet who's the co-headliner at a reading that goes disastrously awry. There's a faction called the Right-Hand Path who gets involved. (This is not a spoiler if you're not up on your demonology.) There's Billy's rocky relationship with his father, and there's Billy's roommate Jørgen, a techno producer who's been at a music conference for the past two weeks when the book opens...except he was only supposed to be gone for the weekend. How does all this tie together? Well, like I said, you think you know what the title signifies. Trust me on this...it gets weirder. By the time Bushnell works in all the loose ends, The Weirdness has the feel of an Edward D. Wood, Jr. pulp novel—except The Weirdness succeeds in every way Killer in Drag fails. Bushnell never loses command of his wildly-careering plot, his characters are well-drawn and distinct, and the book's comic timing is never lees than impeccable. It's fast, it's funny, it's more than a bit ridiculous, but above all, it's just plan weird. I'd call that a success. *** ½

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    I'm slightly infatuated with this book, and by slightly infatuated I mean I want to have it's Neko babies. I don't want to give anything about the book away since part of the reason it's so awesome is the not knowing part so I'll just say this is a fun, quick read that's worth your time. Peace. I'm slightly infatuated with this book, and by slightly infatuated I mean I want to have it's Neko babies. I don't want to give anything about the book away since part of the reason it's so awesome is the not knowing part so I'll just say this is a fun, quick read that's worth your time. Peace.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Don Allen

    This is my first review, and I have no idea how to make it good or useful to anybody. Maybe just think of this as notes to myself, so I can remember how I felt about this book right after finishing it. It was a pretty good rollercoaster ride. The story was fun, and the writing had its moments, particularly in Bushnell’s observations (through the protagonist’s eyes) of city life for hipsters. (Had to look it up. It’s the correct term, I think.) But was it really good? What does it really do? (Not This is my first review, and I have no idea how to make it good or useful to anybody. Maybe just think of this as notes to myself, so I can remember how I felt about this book right after finishing it. It was a pretty good rollercoaster ride. The story was fun, and the writing had its moments, particularly in Bushnell’s observations (through the protagonist’s eyes) of city life for hipsters. (Had to look it up. It’s the correct term, I think.) But was it really good? What does it really do? (Not that any entertainment needs to do anything more than entertain.) I really like my entertainment to invite me to think. The Weirdness did that, to a reasonable extent, but I find myself comparing it to other books that have invited me to think about similar Big Issues (in this case, conspiracy theory, metaphysics, good/evil, the role of the individual in the cosmos), and this book ranks at the bottom. That’s not terrible. If I found no redeeming value in it, it wouldn’t be on the list at all. So bottom of the list is not oblivion. But, so you understand, here are three titles above it on the current stack, listed according to ascending enjoyment (for me). All of these seem to me to deal with the same Big Issues noted above. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Also a bit of a rollercoaster, a bit more literary (well, it has to do with a bookstore…), a bit more of a puzzle (Weirdness is too all-over-the-map to be a puzzle), good conspiracy stuff, maybe a bit more character development. But still, it’s really just a rollercoaster ride. Mr Golightly's Holiday by Salley Vickers. Not a rollercoaster, but more of a British who done it cum domestic melodrama. No real conspiracy stuff. This one snuck up on me. Great conversation between Lucifer and God at the end. (I don’t think that spoils anything, and it’s what puts it on this list.) 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I can’t remember a more enjoyable ride of this sort. But there’s way more to it, so it’s probably not really fair to put it on this stack. It's not just one ride; it's a whole amusement park. It definitely hits all the categories on the list above. I found myself thinking of this, as well as Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat, #3) as I read The Weirdness.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alyisha

    3.5 stars. Well, that was just a lot of fun. It took a questionable turn at the end. I'm not sure that I was 100% onboard with it, but it didn't totally ruin anything for me either. It just felt a little overdone and warranted the briefest of eye rolls before I accepted it and moved on. It worked for the plot, so whatever. I didn't approach this book looking for perfection or enlightenment; I was just along for the ride. If you like self-deprecating humor, moral ambiguity, recreational drug use, a 3.5 stars. Well, that was just a lot of fun. It took a questionable turn at the end. I'm not sure that I was 100% onboard with it, but it didn't totally ruin anything for me either. It just felt a little overdone and warranted the briefest of eye rolls before I accepted it and moved on. It worked for the plot, so whatever. I didn't approach this book looking for perfection or enlightenment; I was just along for the ride. If you like self-deprecating humor, moral ambiguity, recreational drug use, and are constantly in awe of the weirdness present in both life and in fiction (does life imitate art or does art imitate life?), you'll enjoy Bushnell's book. Warning: it will definitely make you want coffee - so make sure you've got some quality stuff on-hand. You wouldn't want to be put in the awkward position of pledging your undying fealty to the Devil just to get a fix. We all know where that road leads. Or do we?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Coming soon to a bookstore discount bin near you! I guess that if I hadn't been attracted to the demonic "maneki neko" on the cover or read the promising blurb on the back, I might have noticed that the same Charles Yu endorsement is quoted TWICE on the front and back. Maybe that's because Mr. Yu was the only reader able to stick with this meandering novel all the way to the end. There is actually a story in there somewhere; unfortunately the author spends too much time and effort not telling it. Coming soon to a bookstore discount bin near you! I guess that if I hadn't been attracted to the demonic "maneki neko" on the cover or read the promising blurb on the back, I might have noticed that the same Charles Yu endorsement is quoted TWICE on the front and back. Maybe that's because Mr. Yu was the only reader able to stick with this meandering novel all the way to the end. There is actually a story in there somewhere; unfortunately the author spends too much time and effort not telling it. The author really needed to focus on the story that he set out to write. Maybe he should have heeded his character who at one point is trying to move events along and thinks to himself: "Forward motion. Forward motion is good." But it seems instead that this book was written for people with short attention spans who need to be periodically redirected in case they become bored or tired trying to stay with the narrative.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    I want the time I spent trudging through this book back. It started out campy then segued into the ridiculous. The author didn't make me care about the characters. Plus, he tossed too much stuff in. First the devil, then hell wolves. Also, IMO, there was way too much question mark usage, as well as every expletive known to man. It was like listening to teenaged boys speak. I'm sorry I didn't just put the book down sooner. I want the time I spent trudging through this book back. It started out campy then segued into the ridiculous. The author didn't make me care about the characters. Plus, he tossed too much stuff in. First the devil, then hell wolves. Also, IMO, there was way too much question mark usage, as well as every expletive known to man. It was like listening to teenaged boys speak. I'm sorry I didn't just put the book down sooner.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Absinthe

    An entertaining read with a taste of allegory, The Weirdness definitely lives up to its name. I enjoyed this short read, though it is definitely not for everyone. Rating the writing is a bit difficult because you can't be sure if the strange structuring of the story is supposed to mirror the bizarre plot line or if it is due to a lack of skill. But hey, just don't think about it and the book will probably be an enjoyable experience. An entertaining read with a taste of allegory, The Weirdness definitely lives up to its name. I enjoyed this short read, though it is definitely not for everyone. Rating the writing is a bit difficult because you can't be sure if the strange structuring of the story is supposed to mirror the bizarre plot line or if it is due to a lack of skill. But hey, just don't think about it and the book will probably be an enjoyable experience.

  18. 5 out of 5

    gina

    to be fair, i read this book because 1. it has super lucky cat on the cover and 2. it is called the weirdness. I thought it might be entertaining. I suppose my expectations were met? I was occupied for a few hours, although I really did want to stop reading on multiple occasions. This book wants to be a terrible movie more than it wants to be a book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Terrence

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (I'm going to do a rolling review I update to motivate me to finish this one quickly and remember character names) Bushnell's The Weirdness intrigued me mostly because of the Lucky Cat symbol on the cover. At first it appears cute, but it is a bit devious if you look at its eyes and the red star on its collar. 1 As the book opens, we get introduced to the scene of a bar (in I believe Brooklyn) with off duty workers of the various restaurants and businesses in town sitting down for a pint. To begin (I'm going to do a rolling review I update to motivate me to finish this one quickly and remember character names) Bushnell's The Weirdness intrigued me mostly because of the Lucky Cat symbol on the cover. At first it appears cute, but it is a bit devious if you look at its eyes and the red star on its collar. 1 As the book opens, we get introduced to the scene of a bar (in I believe Brooklyn) with off duty workers of the various restaurants and businesses in town sitting down for a pint. To begin our adventure, we meet the oddly inquisitive Billy holding a banana and wondering where these fruits come from in the dead of Winter (apparently he spent some of 20 minutes staring at the bushel). He's sitting with co-worker Ansil (who owns a Greek sandwich shop), and the conversation turns to the subject of both his insanely tall treelike roommate Jorgen leaving rather suddenly and Billy's inability to seal the deal with his girlfriend at the midway point in their relationship because of his insecurity about Jorgen coming back, and can't stand to tell her the untrue statement that things will be good / stable from that point forward despite that being what she wants to hear. It's early, but I'm enjoying the author's ability to spin a yarn and work in seemingly insignificant real world stuff like conversations about bananas, mention of Captain Crunch, and discussions of films that feel like a "malignant drug". I like Billy's oddness and questioning nature, along with how people interact with him so far (even though he's weird, he can function in their society and carry on conversations). This story is adult in nature with curse words and explicit subject matter. As chapter 1 ends we meet Lucifer briefly. Billy's personality is a bit more down to Earth here as he contemplates the best position to stand in order to fend off an attack. I love Billy's crassness in the scene characterized by the repetition of obscene language to describe the awesome coffee and what he may have to do to defend himself. Again, no clue where this is going. 2 I get a bit of a Kurt Vonnegut vibe from this one. Just the mix of everyday sort of characters with bizarrely presented scenarios of dark humor that still remain domestic or casual in nature. Like the devil being taken as a home intruder and then he carrying on a conversation in an innocent fashion, the main character debating calling the cops like this is a scenario he could control with police protection, the reaction to the devil pulling some switches on his mind to be to debate jumping out the window at the risk of a broken bone. It's just very fun, zany, but also enjoyable to read, with a good flow to the dialogue. "To fail out of school because he spent a semester trying to teach himself Polish in order to read a Stanislaw Lem collection...". Yup, I like this author. I'd totally be throwing around Stanislaw Lem references in my fiction (loved Eden and enjoyed the film version of Solaris). 3 So chapter 3 is mostly about introducing Billy's buddies and worklife. Ansil is actually his coworker, his boss being the Greek, Giorgio. In addition we meet an interesting character named Ghoul, aptly named for his bony facial appearance. I was surprised how friendly Ansil gets on with Billy, and their relationship spans 10 years. When Billy brings up his devil story, his friends are there to persuade him to see things in a different light; perhaps it was a trick by a friend of his roommate Jorgen. The end of the chapter happenings felt a bit rushed I guess, introducing us extremely briefly to this literary blog or something (Bladed Hyacinth), run by a jerk named Anton Cyrrus, reporting on some upcoming reading Billy was to read at (Ingot Reading). It's just a lot to throw all these concepts at us, plus show us what Billy has been up to / has planned to do that I don't think we've heard of before, this reading. 4. So the devil reenters Billy's apartment, almost like he never left. I love Billy crying about disliking eggplant (how does he even know he is supposed to like it to begin with? Should we not buy the devil's brain switch thing, or maybe he needed to tinker more to remove all desire for eggplant than just making it taste off). Chapter finishes with us learning the Devil's goal, to get Billy to obtain this lucky Neko statue stolen from hell by a Warlock named Timothy Ollard that could destroy the world. The Devil's goals are of course selfish, to see humanity as a species continue so he can have more fun tempting humans. Billy of course is going to delay his acceptance of this until the last minute. We close with Billy reading an ominous detail from the female poet speaking at his reading about "deleted world". Billy of course is too hung over to even attempt to read poetry, not that it seems he could if he were sober. Overall, ok set up chapter (I read it a bit in parts; there is a bit of recall involved in the chapter that I kind of forget, like why a Wiki page was open to dogs). Chapter 5 We see Billy visit the location the devil specified for Ollard's hideout, the mansion hidden under a trick of the eyes technique where you have to converge your eyes to see the true form. Billy proceeds to go to the bar early to get ready for his reading, and meets the female poet who will also be reading, Elisa. She seems to serve as a possible rebound character for Billy, and she gets to talking about his deep / dark desires Billy hides from others. She says she also caused the death of a man (she says she did it, but who knows what the circumstances were). As we close the chapter and enter chapter 6... Chapter 6 Billy walks into the bar where they will perform awkwardly staring at Elisa for a brief instance, but in the next instance he locks eyes with Denver. This exchange and what happens after (and into chapter 7) seems to be part of a big series of misunderstandings and troubles for Billy. Billy's friends show up, and along with Denver, try to coax him out of telling a story improvizationally. Unfortunately Billy has no choice but to go improv because he left his stories in a bag back at the bar he talked to Elisa with (told a story about Denver getting flustered from Billy playfully throwing bedsheets on top of her while lying on the bed). Billy's friend Anil tells him to tell the story about the devil, and after an embarrassing attempt at telling a story about heaven and shoe souls, he has the guts to tell the devils story with the devil in the audience even. Unfortunately for Billy... Chapter 7 ...there's an organization of mages involved here at the event, and they proceed to knock Billy out with a stun gun, eliminate the mirage like form the devil took on, and mindwipe everyone in the audience. In the process, Billy suspects this will make his friends even more resentful of him and his failings, and again, further misunderstandings. With Billy disappearing behind a curtain in the memory while Elisa literally disappears, the mages unable to track her, one could conclude they ran off with each other So yeah, story is picking up a bit. And while it sounds like Billy has a Charle's Dickens size load of problems chucked at him and the reader, it's still presented in a light enough tone, and there is hope, if only slightly, built up in some scenes (though possibly just to be dashed later). 8-End So yeah, almost done with this one. So Billy fails his mission for Lucifer, in the process losing not only the seal Lucifer put on him, but another one that his father apparently placed on him as well (and taking a trip through the air and then being warped by Ollard). The devil specifically was tricking Billy into getting Ollard to remove said seal. Also, Billy can shapeshift, and so can't two of his other companions. So this is getting all kinds of magical / mystical, whereas up to this point, you could probably argue a lot of the happenings were reality based or delusions (Lucifer not really using magical arts, but convincing Billy that he had). I guess this plot could just be Billy going crazy on a hallucinogen, but eh. I was actually reminded of Billy from Slaughterhouse 5 when our Billy Ridgeway is trapped in an inescapable situation in an unfamiliar void with a woman that is not his true love interest (Elisa). Keith Ridgeway's intro was pretty amazing, though obviously we need to be suspicious of him. Post Text Questions (The italicized questions come from the book itself): 1. Where do the bananas in bodegas come from? Have you ever thought about something so long that it becomes strange, the way Billy thinks “people have pets”? What started to seem strange to you? Why do we shear sheep fur and keep them as animals in a farm, but we don’t do the same with Bears? Wouldn’t bear fur be warm? I think of lots of dumb questions when I feel tired. =P 2. What did you think about the role of religion in The Weirdness? When you heard the line “What about God?” repeated, were you expecting God to make an appearance? Because Lucifer was the Judean-Christian version of the Devil, were you expecting a Judean-Christian God to appear? I expected that God didn’t exist. This seemed more down to Earth, in spite of the devil being a character. I thought maybe the devil wasn’t even the devil, but just taking advantage of Billy's mental state at times to make him think his mind has been rewritten. I was fine with the religious elements overall though; they weren’t too serious. 3. Why do you think Elissa asks Billy, “What is the worst thing you ever did?” Do you think she wants to share her history with him because she realizes they share a connection? Or do you think she had other motives? I think it was just the wolf thing, and she figured since he smelled like one, maybe she could confide in him about her and his troubles. 4. How did your perception of Lucifer change over the course of the story? If he had given you a convincing Powerpoint Presentation, do you think you would have signed on to help him? I really liked Lucifer at the start. He seemed like a bro. Even his methods seemed fair-ish. Needless to say, I was rooting against him by the end. I would have signed on to help, yeah. I would probably ask him to make me immortal. xP 5. What do you think Bingxin Ying meant when she told Denver that she admired her “commitment to immanentization of the ephemeral”? How do you think this phrase affects Billy in the moment she says it, and later in the book, when he tries to get closer to Denver? Denver explains later that it means she captures the fleeting moments in time so that they can last forever. If I were in Billy's shoes, I would be just as confused and feeling unintellectual. 6. On p. 128, were you surprised to find out that Laurent hadn’t read Billy’s work? How did it change your perception of Laurent and his crew? I was pretty annoyed at Laurent. I never really liked him to begin with though, he seemed like just a show man even at the reading. 7. On p. 135, do you believe Lucifer when he says Billy doesn’t want to go back to his old life? Did you expect Billy to choose the Devil’s side? I believe Lucifer. Billy's life is not only boring, but is eating away at his mental health. It seems like Denver breaking up with him could crush his spirit. I expected Billy to help the devil, but ultimately reject his offer to make his next book popular (I expected maybe he would ask him to set him up with Denver for the rest of his life). 8. What do you imagine the warlock might do with the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium? Do you trust that Lucifer will do the right thing? He’ll just let it go until the world burns up. Who would ever trust Lucifer? Especially later in the story? Though I did believe him on wanting to save the human race so he could tempt them more for fun. 9. Billy is constantly slowed down by coffee, traffic, and other simple forms of conflict rarely represented in books. Did the story feel more realistic to you, based on these moments? It felt like a Kurt Vonnegut story, like Slaughterhouse Five (stars another character named Billy, Billy Pilgrim; coincidence? I think not) and Cat's Cradle. The seemingly mundane infused with some supernatural or fantasy / sci fi. I enjoyed the laughs from the scenario, but yeah, the dialogue felt more natural and realistic. I did think it verged too far into fantasy though. 10. How did Billy change over the course of this story? Do you think Billy agreed to the right compromise—protecting Elissa and Jorgen by asking Lucifer to train new hell-wolves from the next generation? Billy obviously becomes a bit more self-confident at the end, empowered by the love from his friends. I think his compromise was ok. I mean, Billy wasn’t in the greatest position, and his efforts saved his friends. It’s kind of makes you think of some of the stuff the human race does now that we don’t think of the consequences for in the future of our descendants (cutting funding to NASA to decrease the deficit, instead of using whatever resources we can to get off our planet quicker before the sun goes out / a meteor hits; according to the book “What If" we plan to move radioactive elements from water storage to these casks that we have no clue where to leave / what to do with them). 11. Why do you think Anton Cirrus retracted his blog post about Billy’s work? And why do you think Anton Cirrus opted to publish Billy’s book? I don’t know, that was weird. I think in their battle, Billy convinced him that they were similar. I also would guess maybe he and Denver blackmailed Cirrus into publishing Billy's work. 12. The topic of consent recurs throughout the book. Lucifer raises it on this page, and Billy returns to it on this page. In what other ways does this theme occur in this book? Obviously there’s sexual themes of consent (the wolf form instances being just instinctual without consent; Billy throwing the bedsheets over his girlfriend without hearing what she had to say beforehand as a surprise). 13. The book ends with Billy musing upon the “moral appropriateness of killing,” or lack thereof. Was it “morally appropriate” for Billy to kill Timothy Ollard? Is it ever morally appropriate to kill in the world of this book, or in real life? I think it’s a tough question to answer. Some may want to say that killing can be justified when it is to protect a loved one maybe, but couldn’t you just harm the party you would hypothetically be attacking? Could you maybe even talk them down? Ollard didn’t seem like a bad guy, he seemed pretty desperate and depressed. I didn’t expect Billy to just slaughter him.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Snem

    This was an interesting twist on the old "devil appears to tempt you" trope. I was entertained by this and the good descriptive writing helped paint a vivid picture. It's a surprising and odd book. The writing seemed amateurish and I didn't find the humor to be particularly funny. I didn't care for the dialogue and while the characters were relatable, they weren't particularly likable. There was quite a bit of meandering perhaps to divert from the lack of substance. This certainly made me appreci This was an interesting twist on the old "devil appears to tempt you" trope. I was entertained by this and the good descriptive writing helped paint a vivid picture. It's a surprising and odd book. The writing seemed amateurish and I didn't find the humor to be particularly funny. I didn't care for the dialogue and while the characters were relatable, they weren't particularly likable. There was quite a bit of meandering perhaps to divert from the lack of substance. This certainly made me appreciate my boring life. While it was quick and mildly entertaining, i don't recommend it. When I finished I was happy to be done with it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Do you like Christopher Moore? Then you'll LOVE this book. Hilarious from start to finish, Jeremy Bushnell is now on my Favorites list. Do you like Christopher Moore? Then you'll LOVE this book. Hilarious from start to finish, Jeremy Bushnell is now on my Favorites list.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A fun werewolf novel with a unique style.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mai Ling

    What a riot. And certainly a weird one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    2.5 Stars Overall for me. Once, for a writing class, I couldn't pin down an idea for a short story. I was up the very first week for reviewing, so it needed to be put together rather quickly. One morning, I woke up with the previous night's dream so fresh in my head, that I had to write it down. It was fun, it was a tad quirky. For the most part, it was believable as a semi-fantastical short story. Until I followed my dream too closely and had the entire sleep-over cast murdered. Needless to say, 2.5 Stars Overall for me. Once, for a writing class, I couldn't pin down an idea for a short story. I was up the very first week for reviewing, so it needed to be put together rather quickly. One morning, I woke up with the previous night's dream so fresh in my head, that I had to write it down. It was fun, it was a tad quirky. For the most part, it was believable as a semi-fantastical short story. Until I followed my dream too closely and had the entire sleep-over cast murdered. Needless to say, it threw my classmates off. They liked the first three-quarters of the story, but the ending didn't work. For me, that is The Weirdness. I am all for weirdness in a book. Usually, weirdness goes hand-in-hand with creativity and unique ideas. All for that, too. But The Weirdness eventually took a turn in its plot that really lost me. For spoilers sake, I won't say what it was. I personally feel the author may have stretched his boundaries into a realm that didn't make sense with the rest of the whole. That being said for a book about a boy being hired by the Devil to retrieve a magical beckoning Neko. Yeah. What I did enjoy about this book, was the actual writing. Kudos. It flows very nicely; and sometimes, such fluidity can be childish. Not here, though. It was super easy to read and had some nice descriptive language, and had some light comedy. (I think the comedy was supposed to be higher, but it wasn't the comedy that jives with me). Because of this particular voice, I was reminded of many of the Simon Pegg movies. Very Shaun of the Dead. So, even if this took place in Manhattan, it was reading British in my head. And Billy and Anil were this: I know the physical description doesn't add up, but my brain didn't care. As for plot, it starts off rather solid. I could see this playing out very similarly in a Christopher Moore book, or perhaps if Terry Pratchett and Jim Butcher had a lovechild. This will appeal to many readers. It looks at the dark side of things and adds comedy and "real people." If you care to look deeply enough, it had some insights on humanity and important choices. In that category, I think it failed to reach its potential. Even though Simon Pegg's movies are silly and sometimes gruesome, they still manage to have heart. And I couldn't find the heart in The Weirdness. So the enjoyment factor went down. It kind of tried in some spots, but I didn't feel terribly connected. So, it was a little below average for me. A fun, quick trip, but nothing too memorable. I think Bushnell has a talent for writing. I simply am not a fan of this story. 4 for quality, 2 for enjoyment.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    "Oh, Billy," Ollard says. "I don't want to kill you. I want to kill everyone." - The Weirdness When the devil, dressed in an olive suit - and here we are talking about the devil, the "Judeo-Christian" devil, not any Hindu devils - shows up in Billy's apartment, he brings excellent coffee called Fazenda Santa Terezinha, which I notice actually exists. This seems like a useful detail that might come in handy later in life. For example, if you smelled this coffee being served, you might fire up your "Oh, Billy," Ollard says. "I don't want to kill you. I want to kill everyone." - The Weirdness When the devil, dressed in an olive suit - and here we are talking about the devil, the "Judeo-Christian" devil, not any Hindu devils - shows up in Billy's apartment, he brings excellent coffee called Fazenda Santa Terezinha, which I notice actually exists. This seems like a useful detail that might come in handy later in life. For example, if you smelled this coffee being served, you might fire up your extra alerts to additional signs of satanic interference. Or if you wanted to pass yourself off as the devil to enhance your negotiation strategy in an important meeting, you could bring this coffee. Or you could just drink this coffee because it is probably better than whatever else you normally brew in the morning. If you did not want devil coffee then I suppose you could make Mystic Monk Coffee instead as a plausible resistance method. Parts of this story, like the "God detector," remind me of The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It does not make sense that a cat statue named Neko is going to set fire to the world, but it is better if it doesn't make too much sense. If you assume that such a statue exists, then the characters' actions flow totally reasonably. There is a lycanthropy theme. This is because everything that could possibly go wrong to Billy does go wrong. (On the theme of body morphing, I will shortly also post a review of Changers Book One: Drew, YA speculative fiction released about simultaneously with The Weirdness in the past month or so.) If I ever feel anxiety about my swagger as a writer, I will remember the story of Billy and his struggle to proliferate new creative words in the face of The Weirdness and then I will realize I'm doing OK.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Rayment

    Random Thoughts Wonderfully quirky, weird and well just plain fabulously odd Plenty of witty dialogue One of the most unique stories I have ever read Fabulous opening chapter, it hooks you in right away and you know its going to be an odd little story that you don't want to put down Won't appeal to everyone, but if you like something a little unusual, this one is for you PowerPoint presentation - trust me you will understand why that is funny after reading Thinking if you are very religious, yo Random Thoughts Wonderfully quirky, weird and well just plain fabulously odd Plenty of witty dialogue One of the most unique stories I have ever read Fabulous opening chapter, it hooks you in right away and you know its going to be an odd little story that you don't want to put down Won't appeal to everyone, but if you like something a little unusual, this one is for you PowerPoint presentation - trust me you will understand why that is funny after reading Thinking if you are very religious, you might have some serious issues with this - especially as Aquinas is referred to as "that fat fuck" You will never figure out what is going to happen next - totally surprising You will have many WTF moments, but in a good way Some wise commentary on life Memorable Quotes "She loved him, he believes, because he wasn't normal, he wasn't a boy who was rambunctious and active and courageous, but rather a boy who was dreamy and inquisitive and delicate." "This is one of those things where I end up saying Oh, tell me more and the next thing I know I'm signing away my soul." He doesn't actually believe in the soul, but he does know that if the Devil shows up and asks you to sign yours away, you should probably say no." "And then he realizes that that's okay. Denver is right: when people love you, they show up. Sometimes that means that they get to bail you out of trouble. It's not bad when that happens; it just means that you return the obligation when you get the chance. You be the guy who is present instead of a fuck-up." 4 Dewey's I borrowed this from Lesley at work (also read by Chelsea and Alicia who also recommended)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben Mariner

    I struggled with liking this book. Every time I sat down to read some of it I was flopping back and forth from thinking it was really funny to really trite. The main character, Billy Ridgeway, was at times very relateable and other times a complete moron you couldn't help but despise. The story actually started off very well for me, plenty of humor and mundane musings on stupid minutae of everyday life. Kind of like Seinfeld, but not nearly as funny. Once the plot kind of started to roll forward I struggled with liking this book. Every time I sat down to read some of it I was flopping back and forth from thinking it was really funny to really trite. The main character, Billy Ridgeway, was at times very relateable and other times a complete moron you couldn't help but despise. The story actually started off very well for me, plenty of humor and mundane musings on stupid minutae of everyday life. Kind of like Seinfeld, but not nearly as funny. Once the plot kind of started to roll forward - which took a really long time, by the way - I felt like it went nowhere and it took forever doing it. I guess I expected a lot of content about Billy trying to retrieve the Neko and failing in different ways. Instead it was a lot of internal struggle with whether he should or not and then he tries once, fails, and the story goes off on an almost completely unrelated tangent. The writing was fine. The humor was decent overall with some stand out jokes. The story was an interesting idea but a little weak in the delivery. Overally, it was really just kind of ok. In a few years I'm sure I won't be able to recount much of anything from this book if asked.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nore

    So I really, really enjoyed this! I loved Billy as a hapless protagonist and found myself attached to him within the first few pages, which meant I cared immensely about what happened to him; I thought his character development was subtle and sweet, if a little hackneyed. The resolution was satisfying in an open way. But why only three stars, with the praise I have for this book? Because there were two named women in the entire book. One was the love interest, and the other Billy fucks while (vie So I really, really enjoyed this! I loved Billy as a hapless protagonist and found myself attached to him within the first few pages, which meant I cared immensely about what happened to him; I thought his character development was subtle and sweet, if a little hackneyed. The resolution was satisfying in an open way. But why only three stars, with the praise I have for this book? Because there were two named women in the entire book. One was the love interest, and the other Billy fucks while (view spoiler)[transformed into a hell-wolf hybrid which, okay, that came out of left field and is another reason this book is only three stars. (hide spoiler)] I'm past the point where I can excuse an author for that. It's 2015. This is Bushnell's first book and it is fantastically interesting, but there is no reason why he couldn't have spent a few minutes thinking about his use of the women in this book and gone "huh, wow, that's sexist as shit!" Quick, fun read, but Bushnell has some critical thinking to do about the roles he thinks women can fulfill in a story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    How did I wait two weeks before reviewing this? I guess because I read it in such a whirlwind that I kind of lost track. Anyhow, I liked it. When I picked out this book from the employee recommended section of my local happy independent bookseller, the cashier asked if I'd read the first page yet, and mentioned he loved it for that alone. I'm more of a read-the-back-then-check-Goodreads kind of impulse buyer at bookstores, so I hadn't... and it was amusing. But the writing isn't anything spectac How did I wait two weeks before reviewing this? I guess because I read it in such a whirlwind that I kind of lost track. Anyhow, I liked it. When I picked out this book from the employee recommended section of my local happy independent bookseller, the cashier asked if I'd read the first page yet, and mentioned he loved it for that alone. I'm more of a read-the-back-then-check-Goodreads kind of impulse buyer at bookstores, so I hadn't... and it was amusing. But the writing isn't anything spectacular. It's fantasy-ish and funny in a Christopher Moore, Carl Hiaasen sort of way, and as I'd mentioned a quick read, and I won't give away any of the plot twists beyond advising to read past where you think you might get bored with it, and stick it out (because it's not tough reading) and it gets amusing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Velma

    "Billy Ridgeway walks into a bar with a banana in his hand." That's the first line of this weird and hilarious debut novel from Jeremy Bushnell, and that's about all I'm going to tell you about it because almost anything else would be spoiler-filled. So I'll just leave you with this: it's one of my top 3 reads this year, and I can't wait to see what comes out of this author's head next! ------- This title was provided to me via my indie bookseller Northtown Books by the publisher, Melville House, i "Billy Ridgeway walks into a bar with a banana in his hand." That's the first line of this weird and hilarious debut novel from Jeremy Bushnell, and that's about all I'm going to tell you about it because almost anything else would be spoiler-filled. So I'll just leave you with this: it's one of my top 3 reads this year, and I can't wait to see what comes out of this author's head next! ------- This title was provided to me via my indie bookseller Northtown Books by the publisher, Melville House, in exchange for an honest review; no money or other remuneration was exchanged. ------- My selection for Task #4 (A book published by an indie press) on the BookRiot #readharder challenge 2015

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