Bizarro Literature is still a relatively new and unknown genre, at least to the mainstream, possibly in part because it’s difficult to define. Though it may sound like some sort of exclusive and super-strange underground literary movement, it in fact encompasses many kinds of fiction — all of it weird. In an attempt to elucidate through example, we’ve collected a list of eleven Bizarro books that are representative of the genre after the jump. NB: this is by no means an all-inclusive list, so if you feel we missed a book or author, then let us know in the comments!
Person by Sam Pink
How can you tell a story that is about nothing? Sam Pink’s Person, the Bizarro equivalent of Albert Camus’ The Stranger (as if The Stranger wasn’t already strange enough), does just that. Person is written in the first person, and it’s about a person, living in Chicago. That’s it — or at least, that’s about as much as we can say about it. Take this sentence though: “I live in Chicago and I don’t get along with a lot of people and the reasons are always new and wonderful.” It’s poetry that reads like a book — or maybe vice versa. This is existentialist Bizarro Literature at its finest.
Help! A Bear is Eating Me! by Mykle Hansen
Help! A Bear is Eating Me! is exactly what it sounds like. Think Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine except that it’s about a company man on a team-building trip in Alaska and somehow, he traps himself under a SUV. Oh, and at the same time, he’s being eaten by a bear. A quick read, almost like watching a movie, this book is really just good fun.
Blankety Blank: A Memoir of Vulgaria by D. Harlan Wilson
Professor Wilson is an interesting fellow. He has worked as a garbage man, tax collector, casino dealer, model and actor, international salesman, sommelier, town crier, and flâneur — all before obtaining an M.A. in English and Science Fiction Studies (that’s two separate Masters of Arts), and then finally, a Ph.D. in English. Yes, he’s something of a maximalist, it seems. Blankety Blank is about Mr. Blankety Blank, a serial killer with a barbershop pole for a head. As far as plot is concerned, that’s about it. After that, you’ll find dozens of interesting quotes from people like David Burkowitz the serial killer and Sir Brian Aldiss the Science Fiction author. You’ll also find a section on werewolves, haikus, several dictionary definitions for words like “goodbye” and “dutch wife,” and lyrics to a song titled “The Egg Man.” This novel is a definite highlight from Wilson’s illustrious cabinet of Bizarro titles.
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