One of my all-time favorite books is The Instructions. Published 10 years ago, it’s a little-known book with only 2000 reviews on Goodreads. But it’s also one I recommend to everyone. So, when I heard that the author had a new book coming out, it was a no-brainer that I was going to buy it. Even better, I was going to do a group reading with the friends that I read The Instructions 10 years ago. And while I think The Instructions is a book a lot of people will enjoy, Bubblegum is just strange enough to be off-putting to the majority of people. I thought it was fantastic, though.
The story follows Belt Magnet (yes, his real name) as he goes through life with voices in his head, struggling with life, and with his beloved Curio named Blank. Uh, what? Belt lives in a version of our world that has no internet, but instead, has flesh-and-blood robots. These Curios serve various purposes- pets, sport, entertainment, drugs, just about anything you can imagine. And they are adorable. As they were described, I kept imagining a hybrid of a hamster, a mogwai, and a fingerling. Belt struggles in various ways to simply be a functioning adult, and even though he is a bit of a sad case, I found myself hoping he would get past all his issues and make something of himself.
As I said, this book won’t appeal to the masses. It’s almost 800 pages, a huge book, and not just Belt’s story. You also read manuals, transcripts, autobiographies of other people, monologues, and thesis papers. I’m not a person who enjoys Infinite Jest, but I am convinced that if people like that book, they’ll love this one. It’s along the same lines, minus the footnotes. Also, the cover is scratch and sniff.