My Alphabet Soup Challenge had me venturing outside my normal reading genres.
X Out Of Wonderland
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Zoland Books; 1st edition (October 10, 2006)
X Out of Wonderland is a farce, modeled after Candide, that takes on the Global Free Market and just about every other aspect of contemporary life. Outrageous and poignant by turns, X is a satire with heart, and an intense and funny reading experience.
X, the novel’s decent and brave protagonist, maintains his optimistic pursuit of love and The Good Life even as a string of catastrophies brutalize him through a series of misadventures that take him around the world. While pointing up the absurdities of our own times, X Out of Wonderland also shows clearly the universal predicament of all humans in all cultures in all times: the need to find meaning and dignity in our lives despite the certainty of death and suffering. The story makes clear that despite our folly, we’ve got a few things going for us: faith, hope, love, and the capacity to endure.
I have not read Candide and would have never picked this book up had it not had the “X” in the title I needed for a reading challenge. Note this was released in 2005 well before the catastrophe of 2008. Definitely a farce. X travels the world in search of The Good Life. He continues to get up and keep going no matter how many times he is knocked down. At times I felt like X, my life has been a series of events I wish I never had to endure including losing our home to a bank too big to fail. Maybe that is why the satire fell way short for me. It hit too close.
A tornado hits X’s part of Wonderland (read United States) and the radio talk-show host is now homeless. We follow him to some crazy places where he meets some crazy people.
It is a quick read at just 160 pages but don’t really recommend you do. But hey, I did complete my challenge.
*From my private library
This is a little different from what I usually review but Michael Perry is a Wisconsin author that writes about life in Wisconsin in a very fun way. This is his debut into fiction waters and I just had to share it with you.
The Jesus Cow: A Novel
Fiction – Humor – Satire
Setting – Wisconsin
Harper Collins (May 19, 2015)
Hardcover: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00N0W4ZT2
Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart, a Hummer-driving predatory developer is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm, and inside his barn is a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. His best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to avoid the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”
Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door, and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a percentage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and raise enough money to keep his land—and, just possibly, win the woman and her big red pickup truck?
Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and t-shirts. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.
This was a wonderful read. I love stories set in my own state. Michael Perry dips his unique writing style into the fiction well and I loved it.
In The Jesus Cow we visit Swivel, Wisconsin on Christmas Eve as Harley Jackson’s cow gives birth to a very special calf. Harley is unsure what to do until Hollywood comes to town and turns his life and the town of Swivel upside down.
Farming, religion, politics, housing recession, ecological concerns, romance, neighborly feuds, and even a bit of scandal come together in the very satirical portrait of small town life. The people of Swivel are those you could find in any small town. They all have their causes and quirky behaviors. Harley Jackson hasn’t had much luck in the finding true love. He is happy working his job, tending his “beefers” and being part of the volunteer fire department. I like Harley, he is different. He is introverted and was brought up in a very religious home but has lost his faith. When his calf is born with a clear picture of Jesus Christ on its side he truly wonders if it’s a sign. He remembers the teachings pf his mother. Good Christians do not draw attention. When his secret gets out he is really in a quandary about what to do.
Michael Perry is an incredible storyteller. He has created interesting characters and a town for them to come together and be observed in a way only he can. The story in funny and touching and does have a message. Those that already loved Perry’s non-fiction works will love this. If he is a new author to you this is a great place to start.
Find out more about Michael Perry and his work on his webpage here.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
In a secret underground lab near Washington, D.C., Pink Pinkerton concocts a drug that can save humanity from itself. Intended as a better erectile dysfunction remedy, one that enlarges our imagination along with everything else, Pink’s formula also tames our lizard brain, quieting the baneful appetites and fears that make millionaires of clever salesmen who make billionaires of their sociopathic clients, who understandably want Pink dead and his formula uninvented. Satire? Absolutely.. Yet, so plausible, with characters so believable the narrative pulses with mystery and suspense.
Pink figures powerful corporations believe his miracle potion will ruin the world economy by making people so happy and enlightened they’ll quit starting wars and spending money on things they don’t need.
I love featuring Wisconsin authors. This book was written by a man from my home town. We never met, I have heard he graduated from high school the year before I was born. 🙂 A friend recommended this book to me and I am glad she did. I just wish she would have told me about the book he wrote before it. Truthfully I didn’t know it existed until I started writing this review so you know not reading it first did not deter me from enjoying this story.
Wouldn’t it be great if there really was a pill we could take to make people happy and enlightened? A pill that would make people matter more than the almighty dollar? It sounds wonderful but as the characters in this book found out it sure isn’t easy and it does have a BIG side effect.
The author takes on some heavy topics but writes in such a way that twists them so they keep their importance but feel much lighter. The character is conversing with the reader his through blog entries, narrating the action, sharing his personal thoughts, with a good bit of sarcasm.
Alfred (Al) Pierce Geddies III takes us quite an adventure from prison to “The Cottage” and out into a dark woods. He goes from being the Former White House Chief of Staff to Special Congressional Prosecutor to Penitentiary Inmate #76490263478 to lab rat and how it happened will keep you glued to these pages.
Sometimes the timelines blurred a bit for me as in places. I don’t want to give any of the story away but at one point Geddies states something took “nearly 3 weeks” and then later he states they had been missing “almost a week”. In an operation such as the one that takes place I believe the shorter time span to be correct and that maybe it was a typo and the author meant 3 days not 3 weeks. This mistake is not relevant enough to downgrade my review. I found the story quite riveting.
If you are looking for a truly different kind of read, this is it. This story was not what I expected at all, but I truly escaped right into it. I have Matt Paust to thank for my recent book hangover.
Find out more about Mathew Paust and his books here on his webpage.
*This book was from my personal collection.