Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Souls are like ideas...Everybody has one that they think is worth something

Back in November Tom and I took a trip up to Boston to visit some friends and one day after brunch at this Chinese restaurant we went to Porter Square Books which, I am embarrassed to say, I never visited when I actually lived up in Boston. I'll give you excuses about how it's actually out in Porter Square (you know, hence the name) which is out past Harvard and I had the Booksmith* right there. Excuses, excuses. But the problem has now been remedied.

We were going through the store, suggesting books for each other, when one of my friends recommended the book The Weirdness by Jeremy P. Bushnell. He'd actually mentioned it the day before as I book I should check out, and now that we're at a bookstore OH HEY, perfect chance to pick up a copy. Not just any copy, but a signed copy!

One other "fun fact" and then I'll get into actually telling you about the book, Bushnell is a writing teacher at Northeastern (my alma mater) and also teaches a class apparently going over Ready Player One. This was not an option when I was there, which is very not fair. Sure RPO wasn't published until a few years after I graduated BUT STILL. Not cool, NU.

Right, so, the book! Billy Ridgeway is sort of a loser. He wants to be a writer but he doesn't actually do that much writing. Instead he works at a sandwich shop and spends time hanging out at his crappy apartment or pissing off his girlfriend. One day he wakes up in his apartment hungover and rolls out of bed to find a stranger sitting on his couch. It's not his roommate (who's been missing for awhile now...), and he's far too nicely dressed to be a vagrant who just wandered in. He claims to be the devil and he has a proposal for Billy. If Billy will go and retrieve his missing Lucky Cat statue, he'll make sure Billy's book is a bestseller. And deals with the devil always go SUPER WELL.

There are devils and powerpoint presentations and warlocks and opposing factions that use a Doctor Who knock-off to communicate its members and other supernatural goings-on as people either try to destroy or save the world (teams seem to change a lot, so who knows WHO you should trust) and some choices vs. freewill and do we really know who we are. There's far more than just will Billy help the devil to become a bestselling author. Which good because that story doesn't sound so interesting. Though there is a LOT shoved into this story, and by the end I was wondering if there was a bit too much going on. Never to the point that I didn't enjoy the story, but something that struck me a few times as perhaps the story could have been tightened up a bit.

That said, the story was a lot of fun. It was funny and had twists I did not anticipate and overall good time. Maybe not a story to inspire deep thoughts and Billy is a protagonist I've seen before but neither of these are bad things.

*One thing I want to say, unrelated to the book but related to local bookstores. PSB includes a bookmark with your purchase. Up at the top it has the name of the bookstore and the back has the stores address, hours, website, etc. WHY DOESN'T EVERY BOOKSTORE DO THIS? One, I'm always looking for bookmarks (despite having 8000 leftover from the wedding, they're currently packed away...somewhere). But more importantly, what great, fairly inexpensive advertising. When I'm reading a book in public places, you know, like the subway, I stick the bookmark somewhere in the back of the book, with the top of it poking out. So the bookstore name is out there. And I will happily use a local bookstores bookmarks and indirectly be like "Hey everyone, why don't you shop here?" The Strand does it too (I have a bunch of their bookmarks) and yeah. I love it. Sorry this post has had so many non-book related bits to it, but this was obviously important.

GIF rating:

Title quote from page 27

Bushnell, Jeremy P. The Weirdness. Melville House, 2014.