I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell
Published: 2014 by Melville House
Genres: Fiction (General), Humor
Source: the publisher
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The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell is by far one of the most bizarre books that I’ve ever read. The protagonist, Billy Ridgeway, is a fuck-up. He’s given up on his dreams of being a writer and settled for a life where he (barely) scrapes out a living working at a New York City deli. He has no drive, no ambition, and no energy to turn his life around. One night Billy gets drunk and high at the same time and passes out on his couch. He wakes up to discover that the devil is making him coffee and wants to offer him a deal. There’s a relic, a Chinese-restaurant style cat, whose pendulum is a perpetual motion machine. The Neko of Infinite Equilibrium is surrounded by wards, and if they are removed, it will break the laws of physics and destroy the world. The Neko has fallen into the hands of someone who means to do just that. Lucifer may be the devil, but it’s in his best interest for the world not to be destroyed.
Billy has no idea how to react to Lucifer. He doesn’t want to trust him, but he doesn’t want the world to be destroyed either. What he would really like is to go back to his existence before the devil showed up in his living room. But of course, that can’t happen, and instead he is caught up in a surreal mission filled conspiracies, literary smackdowns, and demonic wolves. As the story progresses, Billy must face his own inner demons in order to snap out of his funk and save the world. Bonus points if he can get through it all without his girlfriend dumping him.
When I started reading the book, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had picked up a review copy at ALA without knowing anything about the book, solely because the cover intrigued me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a book with a demonic-looking Chinese kitty with a pentagram on the cover?
The Weirdness is the kind of book that’s hard to classify, and that’s what makes it so good. Billy’s inner monologue reminded me of something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie as he speculates on mundane details (where do the bananas at bodegas come from?) as the world around him is transformed in ways he could never have expected.
The Weirdness is not the typical story of a struggling writer having an adult version of a coming-of-age after years of soul-searching. Billy’s just this guy, and he’s having a really rough day that forces him to step outside his comfort zone. For most of the book, Billy is rebelling and just wants everything to go back to normal so he can return to his mediocre existence. Even the devil keeps pointing out how Billy doesn’t have much to return to, and therefore has very little to lose. And yet Billy wants to keep clinging to the familiar, which is what got him into his rut in the first place.
The Weirdness was complete and utter nonsense, and I loved it. Each page continued to surprise me as Billy’s adventures became increasingly strange and otherworldly. It’s different than anything else I’ve ever read.