Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"Nice is overrated..."

Imagine that a boy is informed that his parents are not his real parents, that his real parents are on their way to take him home and that, when asking for further clarification, the boy is coldly told by his now-understood-to-be-former-father "But haven't you ever wondered why we're slim, handsome, attractive people, full of positive energy and style? And you're kind of a porky, boring schlub, always whining and stuffing your face?"

Or, imagine that a man wakes up for his morning stretch and promptly falls out of his window all because the man's "guardian angel was off in the bathroom again, with a comic book."

If your imagination likes these first two scenarios, then its bound to enjoy all fourty-three short stories contained in Barry Yourgrau's NASTYbook. And when I say short stories, the emphasis is on short. Most of these stories, many of which are more appropriately referred to as sketches or vignettes, only run 3-4 pages and take mere minutes to read. But each one is packed with a bit of dark humor, a bit of the creepy-crawlies that reside under your bed and in the back of your closet, a bit of delight and, well, a bit of nasty.

This book was one of those random finds. I had never heard of it and knew zilch about it. It's cover caught my eye on a Border's "New Arrivals" table, and literally a minute after picking it up, I was utterly hooked. These stories are like literary crack - as I'm reading them, I just keep waiting for the next juicy tidbit, and then the next and the next, etc.

A story called Orphan begins:

A boy's sister dies. Then his mother dies. Then his father drops dead.

Thankfully, his kindly, saddened grandparents take him in. Then they die too.

Just like that.

See...you want to keep reading the story now, don't you? Literary crack, I tells you.

Now, it should be noted that this book, technically speaking, is considered a children's book. As a kid, I know I would've loved this book beyond words. As an adult (although at times the status of my adulthood is, in fact, questionable, my 28 years mandate that I declare myself an adult), I love it no less. This really is one of those books for all ages (or, rather, as the back/front cover says, for agest "10 up"). To understand my reference to the "back/front cover," you'll just have to buy the book and see for yourself!

Author Neil Gaiman's introductory blurb perhaps says it best, noting that this book is not "chicken soup for anybody's soul, unless it's the kind of chicken soup that has weird things floating in the depths, and that nobody survives drinking."

I don't know what it says about my soul that I enjoy this book with weird things floating in its depths so much, but quite frankly, I don't care. I'm going back for seconds.


At 7:07 PM, Blogger EmoRiot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger EmoRiot said...

See Dick run. Run Dick, run.

See Sally. See Sally inform Dick that he's not related to her because of his schlubbiness.

See Jane drop dead. Drop dead Jane, drop dead.


Nasty children's books ARE better. :-)


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