Sunday, August 25, 2013

Novel Ideas by K. B. Dixon

Novel Ideas by K. B. Dixon
Copyright 2013 
Inkwater Press - Fiction
122 pp.

I am never going to get used to this new washing machine.  One of the cycles is "Berserk".  It lulls you in the beginning with a sort of gentle, sloshing, metronomic rock-a-bye -- then suddenly somewhere around minute eighteen, it goes crazy -- it starts shaking and jumping up and down hysterically.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear of it registering on nearby seismographs.  It's a mind mangler.


Walker's mother is one thing; his aunt is another.  It is a mystery to me -- men and women who marry in desperation when it is so easy to simply adopt a dog.

~p. 17

Novel Ideas is a quirky little piece of fiction with an introduction explaining that it is a selection of bits from [fictional author] Steven Styles' letters and emails to his close friend, Alan Dodd. This gathering of fictional excerpts is the work of a group of fictional students doing a fictional project, introduced fictionally.  The result is a bunch of wacky observations by a witty author who doesn't exist.  Because quite a number of characters are carried through the book in anecdotal form, it takes a bit of mental sorting to keep them all straight but you get to know most of them fairly quickly.

One of the characters is a man who is attempting to write his memoirs but not doing a very good job of whittling down to merely the most significant events in his life, so that the finished product is likely to end up as thick as a dictionary. Another, "my figurer of figures" has started a project to determine just how much time he is likely to waste on various activities (including sleeping) over the remaining estimated 40 years of his life so that he can determine how to reduce the time wastes and spend more time living. The author, himself, is attempting to write a different kind of book than what he normally writes, researching a murder.

One of the bits about how much time fictional Ethan spends (this one on reading) made me think, "Oh, yeah, that's something I need to work on":

Time spent reading stories in the newspaper or online that Ethan does not have a need to read -- stories that are neither entertaining nor edifying: 30 minutes a day. That adds up to about 7 days a year or 280 for the full run. Stories like "Robber with knife scared off by woman with hedge shears," "Boy on class field trip jumps off Golden Gate Bridge," "Angry girlfriend sets vehicles on fire at car dealership." 

The two excerpts at the top of this review are on the same page of Novel Ideas, which shows how the book is set up -- a series of anecdotal bits, most of which have continuing storylines (although not all do; some are simply random observations).

My thoughts:

It took me a while to get into Novel Ideas because you have to become accustomed to the style, the idea and the characters -- and then some of those little interconnected bits are much more interesting than others, some more smile-worthy, some incredibly random.  I particularly liked the bits about Ethan, the man who is trying to figure out how much time he's wasting with Styles' help, and whose figures eventually become so ridiculous that the author gives up -- and anything that made me smile, like the comment about the washing machine.

Recommended - Not my absolute favorite by Dixon (that would be The Sum of His Syndromes, which landed a spot on the "good shelves"), but definitely an enjoyable afternoon's diversion.  All of Dixon's books are written in little snippets with sharp use of wording and a keen eye for the ridiculous. I really love his writing.

I received a copy of Novel Ideas from the author in return for an unbiased review. 

©2013 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

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