“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an old proverb that we all know, and while it’s lovely as a metaphor about acceptance and understanding, there’s an entire industry devoted to the fact that we do this literally all the time. If I’m scanning a pile or web page full of books not looking for anything specifically, I’ll pick up the ones with eye-catching, interesting covers or titles that jump out to me. This title-based method is how I ended up reading Aphrodite’s Workshop for Reluctant Lovers and The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex. I read Sellevision because it was meant to be a witty satire of home shopping channels, and I mean, it certainly was that, but it was also a bizarre and hellish rollercoaster of an experience.
Anyway, this is also how I ended up reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer—I saw it in a sea of Book Depository sales items and went “Whoa, now, what is going on there?” It’s not just a pun, but a singable pun, and promises to be about raising the dead. A book with that much ridiculousness and black humour just in its name had to either be amazing or terrible. Unfortunately, Lish McBide’s debut novel with the delightful pun title wasn’t bad, but didn’t commit to being dreadful either, so it just ended being kind of heartbreakingly mediocre. With spontaneous cage sex. Continue reading →
After being so pleasantly neutral about The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex, it’s sort of morbidly satisfying to have the next obscure novel plucked from the sales shelf be one that I’m so baffled and outraged by.
Hey, it sounded fun—after all, what could be more ripe for comedy than the quirky, white-lit, commercial world of a home shopping channel? There’s something intriguing about that alien landscape and the glittering hosts who rule over it, whether they’re joyfully explaining what this particular powder makeup can do to clear your skin and improve your life or playing out entertaining fabricated loops of domestic bliss vs greyscale footage of clumsy terror in infomercials.
For some people, existing and thriving in this weird world of advertising is their job and their life. Sellevision asks “what must it be like behind the scenes?” in… what I assume was meant to be a satirical way.
In 1986, a million dollar Picasso painting disappeared overnight. A neat white placard informed patrons of the National Gallery of Victoria that the artwork had been removed by the A.C.T., which many presumed to mean that it had simply gone on a road trip to a be displayed in the Australian Capital Territory… when, in fact, it was being held ransom by the Australian Cultural Terrorists, who threatened to keep and/or destroy the famous painting if the government didn’t raise the abysmal funding it gave to the arts. The painting was found, safe and sound and in fact strangely well cared for, in a locker in a train station some weeks later, and the thieves were never caught.
This is their story, or at least, a story that could have been theirs, tangled up with the stories of several other ordinary people and a South American ghost legend in a great dramatic fishing net and flung into the Yarra River. Continue reading →
Now, I’m not especially well-versed in Greek mythology, but I know enough to affirm that the gods were always screwing with people. A contemporary comedy novel about the interplay between ancient gods and the modern world looks like the perfect place to play with this, as well as of course the business of modern romance and the pursuit of happiness, but instead this book left me with the baffling conclusion that none of us have any autonomy and we are all playthings of the selfish divines. Continue reading →