The Weirdness: A Novel by Jeremy Bushnell
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Melville House
Release Date: March 4 2014
Source: e-ARC from publisher via Edelweiss
The nitty-gritty: An unexpectedly hilarious story about making a deal with the Devil, full of quirky characters and situations.
He’d return to having sex in the back seat of cars except neither he nor Denver own a car. He has considered, on more than one occasion, signing up for a Zipcar account just to have a place to furtively fuck, but he never gets far enough in this plan to actually propose it out loud. Something about imagining that hundreds of other people around the city had also come up with this idea, and that he might end up fucking Denver in some car that somebody else had just used as their own roving fuckatorium…he envisions clenching buttocks, or a woman’s greasy footprint stamped on the window, and queasily dumps the whole idea.
The Weirdness was indeed weird—in the best possible way. I enjoyed this book immensely and I can’t wait to read more by this very talented debut author. What makes this novel stand out is the voice of the main character Billy, a shy wannabe writer whose lack of self-confidence leads him down the wrong path. The novel is written in third person present tense, a style I usually can’t stand (I prefer past tense), but it works here, and I can’t imagine this written any other way. Bushnell sets up his story by explaining just what a loser poor Billy really is. He lives with a roommate and his bedroom is a loft, hence the quote above where he ruminates on how he can possibly have a private moment with his girlfriend. He works in a sandwich shop while trying to bang out a novel and jump-start his career as a famous writer, and that isn’t going very well either. The author infuses his story with lots of sly observations about the life of an unpublished writer, which, one might think, come from real-life experience. All these elements are mixed together with the actual plot, which is that Billy is about to make a deal with the Devil. And boy, things just don’t go the way you expect them to.
When the story begins, Billy is living in Brooklyn, agonizing over his (non)writing career and trying to figure out why his girlfriend Denver hasn’t called in a while. One morning, he wakes up in his apartment and discovers a strange man sitting in his living room. The man tells Billy his name is Lucifer Morningstar, and he has a task for Billy. If Billy agrees to help him recover a dangerous item that was stolen from Hell and is now being held somewhere in Manhattan, Lucifer promises to get Billy’s book published. What follows is a delightfully twisted tale, as Billy discovers the supernatural underbelly of New York, tries to plan an uninterrupted evening of sex with Denver, and attempts to save the world, all while wondering whether or not the Devil will take him to Hell when all this is over.
The Weirdness is ridiculously funny and well written, and Bushnell’s punchy writing style kept this story humming along. It’s not a long book, and it flew by even faster because I was so engaged in the story. I think it was the quirky elements that I loved the most, which made it feel fresh and contemporary, like Lucifer’s penchant for really good coffee (Starbucks plays a part in the story), and a character named the Ghoul who is constantly on his smart phone, usually on Twitter. One of my favorite elements was an outrageous contraption called the God Detector, a machine that will supposedly light up if God were to ever make an appearance.
The plot does take a hard left turn near the end, which threw me off a little. Usually I love it when stories are unpredictable, but this particular element was one of those “WTF?” moments that took quirkiness to a new level. Let’s just say this book is called The Weirdness for a reason—there is a lot of weirdness between the pages.
I loved most of the characters, and the relationships between the characters in particular. Billy’s best friend Anil is really his only true friend, and they have some wonderful moments together. I also enjoyed Billy’s relationship with his “girlfriend” Denver—and I put that in quotes because throughout most of the book, Billy isn’t really sure where they stand. At one point he tries to plan the perfect evening with Denver, an evening that includes a bottle of wine and (hopefully) the apartment to themselves so they can have uninterrupted sex. Like most of Billy’s plans, this one never materializes. I felt sorry for poor Billy, but I have to say in the end I was happy to see him develop some backbone, after all the crazy experiences he goes through.
And I’ll bet you’re wondering what’s up with the lucky cat on the cover, am I right? Trust me, that cat is pretty important to the story. (But you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out why!)
Full of musings on what it’s like to want to be a writer in New York City and how far one might go to achieve one’s dreams of fame, The Weirdness hits all the right notes. When Billy asks the question “Since there’s a Devil, does that mean there’s also a God?” we’re right there with him, pondering the question as well. If you’re ready for a laugh-out-loud story, full of crazy action and yes, weirdness, get yourself a copy of this book right away.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
You can find The Weirdness here: