My Criteria for Oddness

6/14/14:  When I launched this site six years ago, I had a very fluid notion of what constitutes oddness.  I still do, but that notion has shifted somewhat.  I got bogged down for a long while in that which was aggressively wacky, having no real value because the books were created with the sole intention of being weird. Such juvenile and self-conscious strangeness wears thin after a while. I found myself longing for sincerity and sick of self-referential irony.

That having been said, my current ideas of what makes a book odd are still pretty broad.  That which is strange because the writer can only write strangeness qualifies.  I want to read that which is truly odd, in that it is eerie, horrible, fundamentally weird, heretical, outre, obscene, sickening, transcendentally beautiful, unexpected, dark or amazing.  This criteria covers so much but it also leaves many books, even those marketed as being quite odd, out in the cold.

Initially, I didn’t want to read the odd books by critically lauded writers, like Burroughs or Kathy Acker or Philip K Dick.  I think that will be changing sooner than later.  It’s impossible to maintain a site like this, loving that which is genuinely outside the norm, and not discuss writers who took the odd and made it their own so well that even mainstream critics loved it.

And of course, odd non-fiction is really important to me.  Aliens, strange manifestos, conspiracy theory, monsters, madness, whacked theory, high weirdness – I love it all and read it all.  Weird non-fiction has more leeway for me in terms of editing, but it still needs to be readable.  But even that is negotiable as some really great works by the mad initially seem incomprehensible.

The best way I find out about truly odd books is when people tell me about them.  If you have any recommendations for me, hit me up at anita at ireadoddbooks dot com.