January 16, 2011

Queer Review: Odder Than Ever

Odder Than Ever by Bruce Coville is a collection of short stories that exists as an exhibit for the truly weird.

The Golden Sail
When a young teenager is given the opportunity to meet the father who abandoned him at birth, he realizes that there is always a price to pay for everything.

Biscuits of Glory
Obsession and baking explosively collide in this story about a ghost who only wanted to be able to bake perfect biscuits.

I, Earthling
It's a cliche because it's true, growing up is tough and requires making hard choices, as a son of human diplomats on a distant planet finds out.

The Giants Tooth
Imagine you've been eaten by a giant, only to be rescued by a woman inhabiting one of the giant's rear molars. That is what happens to Edgar Twonky in this tale about the importance of community.

There's Nothing Under the Bed
This story reveals the truth every child knows so well and parents are always oblivious to. There is a great evil lurking under the bed and it will make all one's nightmares come true.

The Stinky Princess
When a goblin and a princess are rejected by their respective species after they start to smell too much like each other, they must make their own way in the world.
The Japanese Mirror
A morality tale on the dangers of uncontrolled anger, with elements of Dorian Grey mixed in.

Am I Blue
A bullied teenager questioning his own sexuality finds himself aided by his very own fairy godfather.

The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones
This story deals with the difficult subject of child abuse. This one I must admit to having some reservations on, as the ending may not send the best message. I hate to play the curmudgeon, but false hope is rarely a good thing.

My favorite stories of the collection were Biscuits of Glory, The Giant's Tooth, The Stinky Princess, The Japanese Mirror, and Am I Blue. In my opinion Bruce Coville is usually at his best when telling whimsical tales with provocative offbeat material. His weakest stories tend to be the more grim stories that attempt to address darker material.

Not that Bruce Coville doesn't do well when addressing serious issues, it's just that he does it best in stories, like Am I Blue, that use absurdity in order to poke fun at human nature.
I also think the following quote from Am I Blue is good advice in general and since I have little more to add, I will end with it:

But if you live in a world that keeps trying to grind you down, you either start thumbing your nose at it or end up very short. Taking back the language is one way to jam the grinder. My friends and I called each other faggot and queer for the same reason so many black folks call each other nigger - to take the words away from the people that want to use them to hurt us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.