Review: Scary People by Kyle Muntz (Eraserhead Press; 2015)

16 Nov

  
A series of disturbing vignettes open this curious, extremely fun, and playful novel. 

The style of this novel is breezy yet concise and funny while it disturbs. For example: one character named Siguard–identified early on as a serial killer–shares a song with the narrator about eating children’s fingers; eerily, the song is non-fiction. 

I enjoyed the elliptical nature and blank space in Scary People. The tone was apathetic and detached and the lack of extraneous description was refreshing–a task that is difficult for a writer but which Muntz makes look easy. 

Interspersed with the plain but absurd dialogue are dark gems like this: 

“You’re awful. If I was a teacher, I would say you have no future, and years from now you’re going to die in a gutter with syphilis and hemorrhoids, while living on a diet of plastic wrappers, fermented rats, and moldy grass, with half of your limbs rotted off, and only one eye.” 

And this: 

“”Nothing makes sense,” he said. “It’s kind of sad, really. The only light this world has doesn’t illuminate anything. All it does is shine brighter, so we have to pay attention to the things we don’t want to see.” 

I wish he wouldn’t be so profound, by accident.” 

We have glimpses into harrowing but transformative philosophical ideas amidst all the cartoonish violence. After re-reading the second, above-quoted passage a few times, it’s meaning still mystifies me–is it suggesting that optimistic aspects of life are difficult to discern because they are seen under the same light as negative ones? 

A disturbing scene with pirates is a memorable. I’ll leave it up to your imagination what they use a mean-spirited Redbeard’s peg-leg for! 

I loved the moment when Karen spits flame!

It was odd yet fun to encounter the scene Muntz and other writers performed at this year’s Bizarro Con later in the book, particularly having read about the fates of the characters during the 1st 200 pages–this pushes the RPG scenario into a different space than I had originally envisioned during the performance; if the conflicts and growth of the characters is sort of erased by this new scenario, then what plane of reality are we on now? Although the characters actions were cartoony in the first 200 pages, there was, while not exactly emotional depth, still, emotional currents and a rawness or: a sort of sadness observed at the heart of all human interaction. 

Which is a relevant observation as it turns out, given the metafictional nature of the final third. 

I deeply loved this book. It was fun, original, and a joy to read. I’ve never read anything quite like it or felt my sense of grounding become an entrance into a cartoon while being pinched in the rear by shears. 

Read Scary People by Kyle Muntz

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