He recently wrote newsletterLincoln Michel (author of “The Body Scout”) defended books narrated by “weird little freaks of the world.”
I am here today to support this call and to put in good words for, in Michel’s words, “the disgusting, the strange, the jerky and the delusional…obsessive weirdos.”
I don’t want these people in my real life, but I can’t get enough of them in my fiction. I know some readers say they want characters they love and can root for, but my real interest is in anyone who is weird and interesting.
Michel names some common examples of the genre, the narrators of Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Bernhard (among others), and to keep things moving, I’ll include some of my favorite quirky narrators.
Narrated by Oyinkan Braithwaite Korede “My Sister, the Serial Killer” She is a highly competent and caring nurse tasked with cleaning up after her sister, Ayoola, after Ayoola kills another boyfriend. Why does Korea do this? What will happen when Ayoola starts dating the doctor Korede has a crush on? Should we fear Korede or support him? Finding answers to these questions is just one of the joys of the novel.
Steven Millhauser’s hubris “Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954, Jeffrey Cartwright” It’s a bit complicated, but it makes a lot of sense once you get caught up in its magic. Jeffrey Cartwright is writing the biography of his next-door neighbor, the great writer Edwin Mullhouse, who died at the age of 11. Parodying literary biography and the conceit of critics by placing it in the hands of a child writing about another child, Millhauser channels in Cartwright a burgeoning obsessive egomaniac confident that he has unique insight into art and literature. I have recommended this book to dozens of readers, and everyone who has read it says they have never seen anything like it.
Elliot Weiner, narrator and hero of the story “My Search for Warren Harding” Written by: Robert Plunket is a despicable person, a bigot, a (secret) homophobe, a fraud and a literal idiot. Still, you’ll spend much of your time both laughing at and with him as you follow his quest to retrieve some Warren Harding secrets allegedly held by Harding’s mistress living in 1980s Hollywood.
Nicholson Baker seems to specialize in whimsical narrators, including novels like “The Mezzanine” and “Vox,” but his most formidable hero is Arno Arno Shrine. “Fermata” A man who realizes he can stop time and uses his ability to become an undetected voyeur. Some critics found the book literally repulsive when it was published in 1994. I can’t even say that I enjoyed this book, but it would be a mistake to deny it, given that I can remember the impact it had on me 30 years after I first read it. its power.
Patricia Highsmith’s all-time classic Tom Ripley was first introduced in 2010. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” a bad person; a con artist, murderer and sociopath. Highsmith’s genius allows us to start rooting for Ripley’s success as she tries to avoid being brought down by her bad behavior. By subverting morality with Ripley’s magic, Highsmith makes the reader feel complicit in these evil actions. An exciting reading experience.
Please readers pay attention to all of these books! They’re not for everyone. They might not even be appropriate for most people, but for me, one of the great things about books is that we can spend quality time with any weirdo, weirdo, misanthrope, or malcontent, and then turn the page.
John Warner is the author of “Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Requirements.”
Book recommendations from Biblioracle
John Warner tells you what you should read, based on the last five books you’ve read.
1. “Sacred” by Stephen King
2. “Links” By Justin Torres
3. “Fruit Gatherers” By Amanda Peters
4. “Legacy of the Divine Orchid” By Zoraida Cordova
5. “Hello Molly!” By Molly Shannon
— William G., Chicago
I avoided this book because it was chosen by a popular book club and I was trying to spend my time on books that others might not notice, but when it also became a National Book Award finalist, I had to check it out, and in doing so, I was blown away by it: “Chain-” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah Gang All-Stars” song.
1. “Antarctic Navigation” By Elizabeth Arthur
2. “Swampland!” By Karen Russell
3. “World News” By Paulette Jiles
4. “The Diary of SS Miss Unguentine” By Stanley Crawford
5. “Sweet Thursday” by John Steinbeck
—Blair, Tucson, Arizona
Patrick deWitt’s “The Sisters Brothers” has a historical setting, wit and adventure that I think are in Blair’s wheelhouse.
1. “The Village Healer’s Book of Cures” By Jennifer Sherman Roberts
2. “The Flower Moon Killers: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” By David Grann
3. “Earth House” by Woody Guthrie
4. “Cinderella’s Dress” By Shonna Slayton
5. “How the Word Spreads: Reckoning with the History of Slavery in America” By Clint Smith
-Cindy M., Chicago
I didn’t know Woody Guthrie wrote a novel. You learn something new every day. For Cindy, Guthrie, I recommend a book by someone who shares the spirit of Wendell Berry and his novel “Nathan Coulter.”
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Send a list of the last five books you read and your hometown to: email@example.com.