Book: Eyeballs Growing All Over Me… Again
Author: Tony Rauch
Type of Book: Fiction, short story collection, bizarro, gently odd
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It has enough qualities of bizarro and the gently odd that it is not mainstream reading fare.
Availability: Published by Eraserhead Press in 2010, you can get a copy here:
Comments: I’ve read Rauch before and found his collection of short stories in the book Laredo to be serviceable and entertaining enough to be worthy of a good review. However, Eyeballs Growing All Over Me… Again is a better collection. Less verbose, less neurotic, more confident – this collection is all together a tighter, cleaner, more relevant book. Rauch’s confidence as a storyteller has improved since I last read him. His stories show their purpose without a lot of hemming and hawing, sometimes even eschewing what I would consider a typical ending or a normal resolution. Not every story in this collection worked for me, but those that did not strike a chord likely failed to reach me for subjective reasons. With one exception, there isn’t an objectively bad story in the bunch.
That is not to say there were not problems. Like almost every bizarro book I read, this book had editing problems that were intrusive enough for me to notice. It’s a shame when an author writes a very good book and routine editing does not catch basic mistakes. This is an issue I continue to have with bizarro books as a whole and one I suspect will not go away anytime soon, yet I also suspect I will keep mentioning it until it stops annoying me. The most egregious issue with this book is that hyphens and em-dashes are used interchangeably. The interruption when I read hyphenated words and had to go back because I realized they were hyphenated and not words connected by an emdash was intrusive to the flow of the book. Perhaps this is a problem only in the e-book. Perhaps it was caught and I was reading an old copy. Who knows, but bear in mind this book did not escape the problem I often have with bizarro editing in other areas as well. On the other hand, this book does overcome one of the biggest complaints I personally receive about bizarro – the books are too short. While I don’t mind paying even for short books, I know many look at book purchases using a cost-benefit analysis and often find bizarro books too short for the price. That won’t be a problem with this Rauch collection.
This book is divided into three sections of stories and there are too many for me to discuss all of them, so I will stick to the ones I consider to be the best, though interestingly, I think the story from which this book takes its title is the weakest in the collection.