This Is Not an Odd Book Discussion: I’m fucked!

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Since Wednesday of last week, I have herniated a disc as I was dressing (putting on underpants to be specific), lost our beautiful cat Tabby-mama to kidney failure, and lost our cranky but beloved cat Miss Baby to a stroke likely caused from kidney failure, which we had been managing but all kidney failure, no matter how well managed, always ends in death at some point.

The first trial was bad but losing two cats in two days (and three cats in less than three months, because our beloved land walrus Wooster died back in May) is so devastating I am unsure how devastating it is because I have entered that numb stage wherein I am certain this is a pain- and hydrocodone-induced waking nightmare and that none of it is really happening. My cats aren’t children or babies or cute distractions. They’re incredibly important members of a small but functional bioculture and the loss of each tilts this entire house askew for a long time.

I haven’t really slept in days. I hope this entry makes sense. I think it does. Mr. Oddbooks will edit it later if I’m babbling.

Between the pain from my back and a complete inability to sit comfortably or write comfortably and the mental fog caused from losing two important members of Chez Oddbooks, I am really fucked in terms of positive online work. Just typing this caused some interesting spasms. Whether or not I descend into a depression fog remains to be seen but it would not be surprising if I do.

So the ANSWER Me! discussion will be pushed back until I am in possession of a mens sana in corpore sano and I am cancelling Bizarro Week. Two of the books I wanted to discuss are not books I would feel good about sharing with others as gifts. I’m going to have a generic giveaway of Amazon gift certificates some time in September and another in December. I was surprised that half of the bizarro books I had slated to discuss turned out to be such disappointments, but it happens. It’s actually quite a testament to the generally high quality of the imprint in question that I selected books to discuss before I had read them, but perhaps it is time to reevaluate my processes a bit.

Just giving y’all a heads-up as to why it is I am going to be delayed yet again, all the more infuriating since I had sort of gotten on a roll recently.

There is a cosmic lesson in here, along the lines of “shit happens.” Or, as Fay Weldon said, “Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.”

But then again, I would be careful taking any lesson, cosmic or otherwise, from a woman who was able to wreck her back putting on underwear.

Leave me comments about what you are reading. A movie you liked that I could stream as I lie flat on the couch. Or just share anything, really. People always worry their comments are inane or trivial but that is never the case.

Also, to the Anon who was wondering about someone translating that Peter Sotos interview from French into English, I’m still working on it. A friend of a friend of a friend may be able to look at it once he has finished a large project. Fingers crossed.

28 thoughts on “This Is Not an Odd Book Discussion: I’m fucked!

  1. I finally got around to watching 10 Things I Hate About You the other day and I loved it to hell and back. YMMV, though. If your taste in movies is similar to your taste in books, you might prefer the painfully bizarre “The Fountain”, which I deeply regret watching for personal reasons.

    1. Ha! I loved 10TIHAY. It was surprisingly charming for what was essentially a teen romp stolen from Shakespeare. I looked up The Fountain and got a colon cramp. So I will learn from your example and avoid what I am sure would be a deeply regrettable experience.

  2. Good Lord. You’re really living the life of Job lately…so very sorry to hear about your cats. We came close to losing one of our cats to kidney failure last year. It is truly heartrending and I can only imagine your loss.

    Right now I’m reading Soma by Charlee Jacob, which is an expanded version of her novel Haunter that I read a few years ago. The plot is a little weird, but basically it’s about nasty goings on in SE Asia involving a drug called Soma that is causing the street children who take it to become blissful zombies. It’s interesting — more substantive than most “extreme horror” novels. It has much to do with the aftermath of the Vietnam war, child prostitution, and a bunch of mystical stuff involving demons and Shiva. Pretty heady stuff. I can’t remember what’s added from Haunter in this expanded edition, but there seems to be more backstory. It gets pretty surreal in parts, like when one of the soldier protagonists starts growing lady parts and turning into Shiva, so it may qualify as an Odd Book for your attention.

    No movies to recommend right now, but if you haven’t seen Adventure Time, I recommend it. I’m not normally much for the recent generation of Cartoon Network type cartoons (Spongebob, Adult Swim stuff), but this one is pretty special. Maybe something to check out if you can use something lighthearted.

    I hope the bad patch ends soon for you guys. Sending healing thoughts your way!

    1. I am a notoriously unlucky person but even this last run of bad luck just beggars belief. I’m sure we’ll come out of it okay. If I can just get back into the obsessive cleaning that is my best coping mechanism, I am sure I will recover well in the fullness of time. Nothing like being a stress cleaner with a bad back.

      I am going to read those Jacob books if only because my first experience with her was so terrible. I swore I would never read another word of hers once I gave up on This Symbiotic Fascination but I now wonder if I was being too harsh. I’ve given other extreme horror writers another chance after they gravely disappointed me so I should extend the same largesse (HA!) to Jacob.

      It will also be interesting to read her given the description you give here because I’ve been reading a lot of Requires Hate, the website that just eviscerates sf/f writers who engage in egregious sexism, racism and classism. I generally don’t interrogate texts from that perspective because as a odd reader I just have to take a lot at face value but I’ve recently been interested in the notion of how some writers infantilize non-white cultures by making them the Exotic Other – cute or flashy customs trivialized through the eyes of the White Writer. I don’t know if I would be able to catch such a trope given that I am a white Westerner but this recommendation came at a time when I was pondering such issues so it seems fated I should read her again (though not with an eye to such deconstruction, but just to see if I can recognize excellent setting and odd fiction versus white condescension and appropriation.

    1. Oh, thank you, James. You are one of my favorite bizarros. I suspect we share a similar heinous past in retail sales and your fans are some of the most earnestly perverse people ever to contact me. Once a month or so I get a timid e-mail asking me some arcane question about Felix and the Sacred Thor (is the Thor ever successfully inserted, do the dildos ever try to have sex with each other, is there any bestiality at all in the book, etc). A man who makes handcrafted, OOAK dildos sent me an enthusiastic missive because your book inspired him and he was grateful I turned him onto your work.

      Your fans are a very focused, intense but polite bunch. It’s stunning how something so strange as a dystopian novel with animal dildos could make so many people feel so happy because finally, FINALLY someone wrote something relevant to their interests without mocking them, but you managed it! Well done.

      1. I didn’t know I had fans. Thanks 🙂

        I feel for you. I really do. Back pain is miserable. Hell, pain in general is miserable ’cause while it’s happening you can’t see past it and it feels like it’s going to be this way forever. I’m waiting for orthotics and in the meantime my feet are in agony.

        I wish you a quick, happy recovery!

        (and the answers to their questions are yes, no and maybe)

        1. Oh man, do people not contact you about the book? They should. Yeah, you have fans and they are a polite but vaguely perverted group, which is pretty awesome.

          I have finally recovered from this and am next week going to begin back yoga as well as some back exercises that I will add to my regular work outs. I was afraid I had harmed myself working out or caused something to go wrong that manifested itself when I was dressing but the doc said actually I would have been in worse shape had I not been exercising. I evidently have sciatica as well, but after the first flare up, it’s been manageable.

          Aside from breaking my ankle and needing surgery in 2009, I’ve been lucky. My joint condition comes and goes – mostly goes. I have never been so immobilized with pain I could not move. It’s been sobering and a hard lesson.

          I am so sorry you experience chronic pain like this. It’s horrible. I hope those orthotics work for you!

    1. I’m going to share something that will make you rethink your friendship with me. I loathe JGL. I hate every movie I have seen him in. I have a similar reaction to Ellen Page, Ryan Gosling and Anne Hathaway. It’s completely irrational.

  3. Good grief! Life really is a shit sandwich sometimes. I’m so sorry about your kitties and your back. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    1. A shit sandwich indeed. With tomatoes, even.

      I seem to have recovered and though I miss my two lost girls, life is moving on. Backs and cats, man. Backs and cats.

  4. So sorry to hear about the loss of both Tabby-mama and Miss Baby (especially so soon after losing Wooster). We lost our cat Mollie to kidney disease in December, so I can imagine what you’re going through – Mollie was a member of our family and she left a huge hole when she was taken from us. My wife and I were heartbroken for months. I know it’s probably little comfort right now, but try and think of the good times with them, and the happy lives you were able to provide them with. *hug*

    Reading wise, I’ve just started ‘Big Music’ by Kirsty Gunn, which I was drawn to because of the review in the Sunday Times (, in particular the following comments:

    Booker prize winner D B C Pierre has called it “a landscape… haunting and spacious.” “Like nothing else I’ve read,” comments Adam Mars Jones, both Faber authors, providing pre-publication flourishes for the book. Mars Jones’s guarded ambiguity may be a caution, or simply the sound of dumbfounded awe. When Gunn refers to her book as a “novel” she awards it inverted commas.

    What follows is both epic in ambition, and less intensively sustained. Gunn delineates the essentials of Highland musical bagpipe tradition, exploring the nuances of place and its effects, in what she refers to as “a narrative made up of journal entries, papers and inserted sections of domestic history” that are more than compilation and less (and more) than something made up – a phrase replete with double meaning.

    In a book with more themes than characters – tackling duty, emigration and return, home, belonging, the process of making a work of art, and the price to be paid for that devotion in relationships – not least those of fathers and sons – it is sometimes uncertain what is “made up” and what is fact.

    I’ve only just staretd reading it, but I like what I’ve read so far.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your Mollie. I wish we could figure out why it is that so many older cats succumb to kidney failure. Is it their diet? Is it just what kills them and this is how it goes? I haven’t been able to find out with independent research.

      Funny you mentioned Mollie. A week to the day Tabby died two female cats crossed our paths, both very small, probably sisters, both with injuries. We took them to the vet and it looks like they are ours now because after all that care we got attached. Also we are stupid. We call them Polly and Molly. Mollie/Molly is a very good cat name, I think.

      The Big Music sounds very interesting. Added it to my wish list! Thanks for the rec!

  5. Bloody Hell, as we English say. Here in the arctic we are sorry to hear of your troubles. Since you asked, I’m going to tell you about three books:

    Right now I’m reading Komposisjon i hvitt og grønt (Composition in White and Green) by Anne Gjeitanger. It’s a biographical novel (or 200 word prose-poem) about Nicolas de Stael. It’s written in beautiful Norwegian and is ambitious enough to try to explore the development of his way of seeing. It’s subtly beautiful, even if it very occasionally feels like a well-written list of events.

    Recently I read Drawing Blood by Poppy Z Brite. I really like Brite’s insane short stories and I loved Exquisite Corpse when I read it many years ago. Drawing Blood was far from perfect, but it’s hard to dislike any book in which a character is transported into a supernatural comic-book realm through an act of anal penetration. Reading Poppy Z Brite feels a bit different since she transitioned into Billy Martin. That is to say that for me it’s difficult not to read more of the author into the characters or suspect a degree of wish-fulfillment. It’s a shame that Billy is not writing at the moment, but he seems to have a lot on his plate.

    One of the best books I’ve read this year is Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, which follows the main character’s progression from local weirdo to murderous necrophiliac. If that’s not a well-written novel then I don’t know what is.

    Here’s wishing you good things as Chez Oddbooks rights itself.

    1. Thanks, Vince. I seem to be recovered and somehow two sad, injured strays found us a week after Tabby died. We’ve returned to a strange normalcy, though slightly less familiar.

      I will likely have to give the Norwegian book a pass, though God knows one day I would love to learn the language.

      I’m a fan of Brite/Martin’s earlier works myself. Exquisite Corpse is a decadent, nasty beauty of a nightmare. Such gorgeous gore. It’s been a while since I have read anything he has written. I have all of his New Orleans restaurant novels as well as the story collection he released after Katrina, but I never was as absorbed by them the way I was with his earlier works.

      Brite, when still identifying as a woman, always said she felt like a man in a woman’s body so I think I picked up on the sort of wish fulfillment you identify back when I first read them. Martin does seem to be under water these days, trying to stay afloat financially. When the dust settles from our recent veterinary outlays, I think I will buy one of his paintings from Etsy. I like Martin and wish life was easier for him.

      Oh god, I am going to add Child of God to my wish list but I gotta admit that there are two writers whose prose make me want to die, but kill a bunch of their critics before I croak and McCarthy is one of them (the other is Annie Proulx). But you got me at necrophilia so I am going to have to read it.

      Thanks for the recs, Vince!

      1. I thought about buying one of Martin’s paintings myself. I got as far as checking them out on ebay and choosing a small one, but I worked out that after postage and import tax it was going to be a bit beyond what I could handle. I managed to wrestle myself out of it.

        Back in the days I didn’t know much more about Brite than details gleaned from the biogs in the books and from a fantastic essay in a collection about screen violence, so it’s interesting to think that a greater awareness of the author might have changed the way I read the characters.

        I think the most dispiriting prose in Child of God is all in the first ten pages, so if you can get beyond that without doing anything drastic, there’s a good chance you’ll be safe.

        I am really very happy to learn that the back pain is treatable and that cats have come to help.

  6. Sorry to hear. I know how bad it is to lose a feline member of the family.

    To help take your mind off it: The Pantechnicon by Lionel Miskin is a wonderfully sensual but pleasantly worrying tale of abduction and the role of agency. My copy, somehow, has a letter from the author (a painter) to a friend inside it, which describes the depression he inhabited during the writing.

    Three films for you:
    Woman of the Dunes
    A Place in the World (not on DVD but it’s around the net)

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

      Wow, The Pantechnicon sounds right up my alley. Will definitely be looking into this book.

      Mr. Oddbooks is looking into obtaining all of those movies for me. Woman in the Dunes sounds especially interesting.

      Thanks for all the recs!

  7. Sorry to hear about the various afflictions in your household. Kidney problems in elderly cats are an all-too frequent part of the advancing years; the important thing is all the love and care that you bestowed upon the felines.

    Being a big-time racist, I’ve taken to reading African literature. I’ve being indulging in the Malagasy poet Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo. Lyric alienation from the tropics.

    1. We’ve switched the house over to kidney formulas in the hope that it will help the older cats but for the most part I am resigned to the fact that kidney failure will likely take many more before we are done.

      Two new cats showed up a week after Tabby died. I am destined to be cat-infested.

      Are you a racist? I thought at worst you were an asshole with a schtick. I’m not much of one for poetry but I’ve added one of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo’s translated books to my wish list. Who knows, I may love his work. Thanks for the rec!

  8. I’m very sorry about the loss of your cats. Losing a beloved pet is never easy. I also hope your back will be feeling better soon.

    What I’m reading? Well, I just finished Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” Reading it reminded me why I love Absurdist theatre so much. Guess I’ll have to check out the movie sometime soon. Stoppard himself directed it, so it should be interesting.

    After finishing that, I started reading Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” I think you made a few references to that book in your discussion of Brevik’s manifesto. It makes some fascinating points and it is full of great points. My copy is from my library and I guess I’m not the only one who thinks that because it’s full of underlined passages.

    1. Thanks, Ben. 🙂

      I remember reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead many years ago. The movie was most excellent, if I recall correctly. Gary Oldman and Tim Roth – good times.

      Actually I have never heard of Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. I use the term after years of immersion in conspiracy theory and intense religion caused me to distinguish between regular belief and the sort of cracked thinking that goes into extreme belief – the sort of unquestioning adherence to ludicrous ideas.

      So I will be adding Hoffer’s book to my wish list so I can remember to order it. Thanks for the rec!

    1. Thanks badbungle! I spent hours reading the mondoexploito site on my cell phone. I’ve now moved on from searing back pain to insomnia so I will be exploring the rest of these links over the next few days. Good times~

  9. So sorry to hear about all the issues. I hope you will be doing better soon. I’ve also lost two cats, and they were like family members. I’m at the point where thinking of them is a fond memory, and not a grieving process.

    Wishing you well,


    1. Thanks for these kind words, Sally. I’ve reached the point of happy remembrance that comes after you beat yourself up over every wrong thing you ever did in the course of the animal’s life (did I feed the right food, why didn’t I let her sleep on my neck when she wanted to, etc). I appreciate you leaving me this comment. 🙂

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