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I love reading a book and deciding that I have found an author whose work I need more of RIGHT NOW, and I’m thankful they’ve written a lot more stuff.
I think some of these stories are good enough to stand on their own, but the composition of the entire collection enhances the overall experience. There is a sense of poetic unity among the pieces, and the little illustrations between stories enhanced the sense of loneliness and longing that I felt pervaded throughout the book. There are unifying thoughts and concepts which indicate this is not a haphazard book full of an author’s stories, but rather a book that is supposed to represent a concept. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about Max Booth III’s They Might Be Demons; both authors use flash fiction in a methodical demonstration of theme and a strange progression of plot (I would argue that Pierce’s collection has something of a progressive plot); however, Pierce approaches his work with a schoolboy charm that accepts our perception of madness as nothing more than natural occurrences in thought and action.
My biggest problem with bizarro is that a lot of stories seem to include a bunch of random things that just “happen”, and while that’s usually okay, it sometimes just feels, well, random and contrived. Pierce makes bizarro work as a contextual element; he has infused his stories with a sense of heart and humanity that reflect the poetic elements that seem to either answer questions or provide new ones, with a sense of finality. Pierce did not include random elements, nor did he just throw things into his stories to give readers “more weird” because the book is “bizarro.” I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I wanted to see how Pierce would continue to use his collection as a vehicle for discussing similar themes, but with different symbols and characters. By the time I finished the book, I felt deprived of an awesome discussion that compares Alien to The Metamorphosis. I hope Pierce wrote an essay on it somewhere. But this deprivation is similar to the deprivation the characters felt; I wanted Pierce to give me something his characters wanted, something absolute and definite that I can take with me forever, but Pierce didn’t surrender. He remained consistent.
The opening story demonstrates everything you will discover in the book, which makes me think the design is intentional; or I’m just over-analyzing Pierce’s work. Food and animal references, in addition to that Zen-like observation on loneliness are threads that are woven throughout the entire book, which concludes with enough of a connection to the whole damn thing to make me believe Pierce really meant to design this collection as an isolationist wonderland. I will never forget “Lantern Jaws,” or “Mitchell Farnsworth.” “Disappear” also happened to be a favorite of mine, thought that’s because I dislike Stephen King so much.