books and reading


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One of my all-time favorite books isĀ 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.



books and reading

About Footnotes

I was never a fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books. They were so tedious. I just wanted to get to the story, no matter what it was. I didn’t really care what happened or how everything turned out. I do appreciate what the books were trying to accomplish, and they certainly were unique, but they just weren’t my thing.

So, when someone told me to read House of Leaves ages ago because the book was creative, unique, horrifying, like nothing she had ever read, I was sold. Sounds great. So, I grab my copy from Half Price Books, settle in, and open the cover. W. T. F. I couldn’t even begin to make sense of the story within the story within the story. I realize this has much more to do with me as a reader, how my brain works, and what my reading desires are. The book was truly like nothing I have ever read. I finished it, but the WTF feeling remained. I had no idea how to explain what the book was even about. However, it’s book I have recommended dozens of times because I knew the reader would love it.

Next, meet Infinite Jest. The book that never ends. I’ve been reading it off and on (mostly off) for 5 years. I recognize that it is a brilliantly written work. David Foster Wallace has no equal. But. This. Book….. I think my tendency to skim will prevent me from ever appreciating a book of this depth. A friend of mine has read it almost 10 times. 10 times!! And it takes him 6 weeks to do it! Maybe one day, when I feel a time crunch, I will try to tackle it again.

So, this leads me back to my current book, City of Saints and Madmen. And alas, to my sadness, footnotes in the second part. So, I’m flipping back and forth, trying to keep up with the story and the footnotes, and my brain just isn’t cooperating. I am a very linear person. But, as I declared yesterday, I love Jeff VanderMeer and will persevere.