Author: Chris Mikul
Availability: Chris is in Australia and does not have a merchant website, but you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org – he charges $8 per issue, postage included.
Comments: This is not technically a book review, but my usual off-topic title of “This is Not an Odd Book Discussion” does not apply either. This is very much going to be a discussion of odd books. Chris Mikul noticed I had read his book about cults last year (and I still plan to discuss it here though it’s now been a year since I read it, and, also, fuck my life) and sent me the first two copies of his ‘zine Biblio-Curiosa. He later also sent me issues of another ‘zine of his, Bizarrism and a copy of his book, Tales of the Macabre and Ordinary. Please do not misinterpret my delight in receiving these items as a tacit admission that I am going to discuss a lot of Mikul in the future because I am easily bought. I read and eventually discuss everything people send me. But Mikul may have jumped the line a little bit because he is an incredible writer and I didn’t want to sit on these until they came around in the review queue.
I think Biblio-Curiosa is what I wish IROB could be when it grows up, if it grows up. Mikul’s analysis of the strange books and odd authors he encounters manages to be both scholarly and entertaining, a skill borne from years of authoring non-fiction books about the strange among us. I would do well to exercise some of his organizational skills when I write. I’ve always said I resent being inspired but there is something about Mikul’s ‘zines that make me want to be a better writer. I sense my innate verbosity and inability to focus will prevent any emulation transformation but I can always hope.
Biblio-Curiosa‘s subtitle is “Unusual Writers/Strange Books” and covers both with equal ease. The breadth of his interests and the scope of the topics he discusses puts to shame my passive procurement of odd books. Mikul has access to a huge mountain of strangeness most of us would never know about. I know when I see pulp paperbacks from the ’50s, I often look at the lurid covers and think, “I bet my dad would have read that and liked it.” Mikul’s perspective on the pulp paperbacks from before either of us were born showed me how very wrong I am to dismiss such books because even the pulpiest of them may have interesting mysteries behind them for those astute enough to look for them.