TL;DR

That is the online acronym that suits this site best: TL;DR – too long; didn’t read.

With this in mind, that is the title of the upcoming compendium of the best of Odd Things Considered that Nine Banded Books is publishing.  Chip Smith is pulling the best entries from the sites that became OTC and will be releasing what I suspect will be a massive doorstop of a book sometime in June.

It’s early days but I’ll share more as everything comes together.  I hope to have some new content in the book so that loyal readers here will have something new to read if they decide to shell out their hard-earned dollars and buy my book.

If this book didn’t have my name on it, I would buy it for the cover.  The cover would be my price of admission.  Seriously.  This is the best cover in the history of books, don’t deny it.  The cats, books and I come courtesy of Josh Latta, and Kevin Slaughter designed the layout.  It’s humbling to know that people I respect so much and whose work has delighted me worked/are working on this book.

Imagine five more cats in this drawing and this is pretty much a photo-realistic portrayal of life at Chez Oddthings.

So, just sharing some good news.  More book discussions around the bend, plus a couple of film/book combos I want to tackle, involving Bob Flanagan and Ron Athey.  Good times!

In the Sky by Octave Mirbeau, translated by Ann Sterzinger

Book: In the Sky

Author: Octave Mirbeau, translated by Ann Sterzinger

Type of Book: Fiction, literary fiction, novella

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: This book reached into my chest, grabbed my heart with both hands, and wrung it out.

Availability: Published in 2014 by Nine Banded Books, you can and should get a copy here:

You can also get a copy directly from the publisher.

Comments:  This book broke my heart. There are books you read at moments when you need to read them and this was one of those sorts of books for me.  I was left feeling unsettled the first time I read In the Sky, and read it again to see if I could pinpoint what this book was trying to tell me.  The second read was more of a revelation, and I’m not going to discuss the reasons in any real depth because, even though I discuss books in a confessional manner, this book caused me to consider my life in a manner that I prefer not to discuss overmuch.  As much as I tend to treat this site like a diary, even I have parts of my mind that don’t need to be shown because the contemplation trumps the discussion.  That should be in itself an excellent reason for any regular reader here to read this book.  A book that helps me cauterize my continual brain bleed is a rare, interesting, compelling book.

Mirbeau is a genius.  He portrayed with great intensity a quietly malignant life, a person rotting inside because of tension and fear, a person for whom a blue sky is a crushing reminder that there is no freedom, only a mocking emptiness that can never be filled.  This is a book about a man who died while still living, who kept dying long after the disease had eaten its fill.  That Mirbeau never finished this novella makes it all the better a representation of the life half-eaten, half-lived, never complete. Ann Sterzinger is also a genius to be able to read these words in their original French and convey such exquisite misery so precisely yet with such raw, bleeding emotion.

Every Cradle Is a Grave by Sarah Perry

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book:  Every Cradle Is a Grave:  Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide

Author:  Sarah Perry

Type of Book:  Non-fiction, philosophy

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd:  Pretty self-explanatory.

Availability:  Published by Nine Banded Books, you can get a copy here:

You can also order a copy directly from the publisher.

Comments:  Sarah Perry wrote this book from a place of philosophical intellectualism and factual integrity.  She exhaustively researched the hows and whys of suicide and procreation and makes a very compelling case for making suicide accessible for people who do not want to live and for considering whether or not it is ethical to continue to create new humans whose lives may be more a burden to them than a gift.  As she deftly picks apart the arguments against suicide and antinatalism, she bestows upon mankind a dignity and respect for self that anti-suicide and pro-birth crusaders deny us as we are asked to suffer and to mindlessly recreate ourselves because of tyrannies of tradition and religious mores.

I very much want to discuss this book in a bloodless manner because the subject matter is so fraught with emotional reaction, much of it knee-jerk, that makes the topic hard to discuss in an intelligent way.  When you speak to people whose loved ones killed themselves, you hear them speak of the cowardice and selfishness of suicide.  When you talk of people who did not have children, you all too often hear others dismiss ethical childlessness as selfish, or insist that if only one had a child, one would know, really know, what true love means.  To approach a counter to such topics with emotion is pissing in the wind because the very basis for avoiding suicide and encouraging procreation is steeped in emotion.

But given my personal history and recent events in my life, I can only approach these topics – especially suicide – from a place of emotion and personal anecdote.  I hope that as I write from my id I do this topic justice.  This book really is a paradigm changer, and you don’t have to adopt an antinatalist world view for that to happen.  It is a book that argues against some of the most deeply ingrained habits of human existence – to remain living at all costs and to spread one’s seed far and wide – and it makes the case that our reason and self-awareness are not entirely a great gift and that possession of them should permit us to control how we decide to die rather than be used as a manipulative tool to keep us living.

And there is no way to discuss the entirety of this book.  Know that I will be unable to discuss large amounts of this book and that you need to read it yourself.  All I can do is discuss what I experienced when reading this book and how it relates to my life.

Gun Fag Manifesto, edited by Hollister Kopp

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book:  Gun Fag Manifesto

Author:  Edited by Hollister Kopp, foreword by Jim Goad

Type of Book:  Non-fiction, ‘zines

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because it made me remember with fondness the old Loompanics Catalogue.

Availability:  Published by Nine Banded Books in 2013, you can get a copy here:

Comments: So, I read this a long time ago and somehow forgot to discuss it, which is a shame because I found it to be a funny and at times uncomfortable blast from the past.  I never read this ‘zine in its original format so this was entirely new to me even as it reminded me of the more humorous excesses of the old Loompanics catalogue and a bit of Paladin Press’ more gunnish releases.  God, I really miss the old days sometimes, wherein if you wanted to obtain and read really fucked up books you had to peruse a paper list of books that got mailed to your house and really alarmed postal officials.  I mean, I don’t miss it over much because it’s nice to hear about a book and be able to buy it immediately but sometimes I realize half the people reading here have only ever ordered outre books online and don’t remember the heady thrill of renting a post office box at a mail drop and ordering books that Focus on the Family insisted were occult and Satanic and also evil.  (Remind me to tell you all my “James Dobson mistook me for someone else and touched my arm twitch” story some day.)

Back to the book.  1994.  What a time for all of us who were alive! I graduated from college and started dating Mr Oddbooks.  OJ Simpson captivated us all as he engaged in a low speed chase in that white Ford Bronco.  Nancy Kerrigan got hit in the knee.  And Hollister Kopp edited this ‘zine.  This is a messed up ‘zine – completely politically incorrect, verging into outright sociopathy, and, in its own bizarre way, it is glorious.

Don’t get me wrong.  You all know that I am so liberal I should probably go straight to jail for stealing all your tax money to give to lesbian welfare crack babies.  I don’t get into racist propaganda and racial epithets make me nervous because I’m not wholly sure what my own ethnic background contains and what I do know is Irish and that’s almost never a good sign amongst Americans.  But I am also a pro-2A liberal.  We are rare, like white tigers, but unlike unicorns we really do exist.  I’m not a gun fag, like the editor of the ‘zine. And I really don’t miss the days when Mr Oddbooks would drag me to gun shows and I would end up listening to John Birchers explain to me why it is that blacks and women should never have been permitted to vote and that things went straight to hell after we started putting fluoride in the water, but there is something refreshing reading something so utterly unimpressed by basically everything that makes me who I am.

As we all know, Internet killed the Xerox-zine star.  I know the world seems really nuts because we have access to so much insanity online, but back in the old days you had to seek it out and when you found it you were less inclined to complain about it.  Were these zines online, the comments would have to be disabled.  I think part of the refreshing element of reading this zine compilation was the realization that I would not be expected, culturally, to engage in an argument when I was finished.  That having been said, this is an extremely hyperbolic collection.  A lot of really offensive content got crammed into three editions, and if you can’t embrace the weird when it is offensive, you will want to give this book and the rest of my discussion a miss. 

Down Where the Devil Don’t Go by Paul Bingham

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book:  Down Where the Devil Don’t Go

Author:  Paul Bingham

Type of Book:  Fiction, short story collection

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd:  Because one of the stories is entitled, “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Hollywood”.

Availability:  Published by Nine Banded Books in 2014, you can get a copy here:

Or you can order it directly from the publisher.

Comments: My love for short story collections has been firmly established by now, so, in spite of the picture of the deformed kitten on the cover, I was already inclined toward liking this book.  I was somewhat disappointed.   Bingham’s prose style is similar to my own when I write fiction – Bingham relishes ridiculous and horrible details yet writes about them in a spare, concise manner.  He eschews over-use of adjectives and adverbs, which gives his prose an immediacy, a sort of direct punch that doesn’t get dragged down by needless scene setting or excessive characterization.  This is not beautiful prose; rather, this is effective prose.  But even as the prose is effective, I still found it difficult to like this collection as much as the solid writing would ordinarily inspire in me.

The book consists of four stories and the first, “Population I” verges dangerously into cliched territory, yet is the best story in the collection.