Cultural Engagement and the Bizarro Movement

June 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm (Uncategorized)

I’d forgotten about this! Something I wrote for Bizarro Central a couple years back, now shared here on the home blog.

Bizarro Central

by Michael A Rose

I remember the first time I held a person in contempt.

It was a friend of mine, actually. We’d grown up together as neighbors, played in the dirt, graduated to video games and bike rides, and had remained friends until our adolescence began to reveal our differences. I was turning into someone who listened to music, read books, found weird events enticing and was constantly craving new things. He was turning into someone who would grow up to come home, turn on the TV, and not really care what channel it landed on. More importantly, he would think whatever was on was original and fresh enough, even though he would never use that word to describe it.

This upset me. I wasn’t trying to be pretentious, or dictate that he be interested in my music, my authors, my art; it wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in…

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Review: Kitten by Gary Arthur Brown

June 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm (Bizarro, Review, Writing)

Kitten is a book about a kitten who is not a kitten. It’s also a book about a kitten who is a kitten. Both of those are Willoughby. Well, sort of. There’s also a woman dressed as a kitten, but she’s a whore, so let’s not worry about her right now. The point is, in this story that is not just one story, but a bunch of stories wrapped up in something that looks like one story, Gary Arthur Brown will play with your mind and sensibilities until you lose track of what reality dictates and throw yourself head first into his surreal meta-narrative. Trust me, you will enjoy the ride.

Brown deftly avoids the danger so common in this kind of book: confusion, by allowing the branching story to separate and naturally come back together. The two overarching main components of the story seem far removed, but slowly, inevitably, Brown brings the twisting, turning branches together and wraps everything up nicely in the end, revealing in a sparse few paragraphs how everything unites. Sure, you’ll still be asked to bring your own logic (or refuse it at the door) but the structure is there, and Brown invites readers of the weird to follow the map he’s provided to find it. Readers interested in alternate realities and pan-dimensional weirdness will definitely love it, but even those who aren’t will find the metaphysics understated enough to never bog down the story.

The characters are fun and well rounded, especially considering the short length of the book (as it’s part of the New Bizarro Author Series, there is a general limit on the length of the story). Brown is able to provide quite a variety, from Tamanney the fish-handed quasi-Scottish pirate fellow to the motherly Amaand. Amaand is particularly interesting, for even though we follow the “kitten” and the boy who owns him (Trevor) throughout the book, Amaand is arguably the protagonist. She certainly undergoes changes in her arc, and the action definitely revolves around her decisions. So is she the main character? Or just another mirror in the hall that Brown has created for his readers?

As strange as the book is (a hallmark of Bizarro – readers would expect no less) it follows an internal logic. Things happen for reasons, cause and effect exists, and things never become so off-the-rails that it feels like Brown has lost track of his narrative. This is a solid, fun and strange debut from an exciting young writer that should not be missed, especially by fans of the absurd and surreal.

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