Book Review: Avoiding Mortimer

Avoiding MortimerAvoiding Mortimer by J. W. Wargo
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

If you like some social anxiety mixed in with your bizarro, this is the book for you.

Mortimer avoids everything. He avoids life. He avoids relationship. He avoids his family. Mortimer simply exists but does nothing with it. When he lets his guard down once and does something other than avoiding things, it ends in disaster and…well, so does Mortimer. But that’s not the end of the story in Avoiding Mortimer by J.W. Wargo.

Actually, it’s a very touching story. Mortimer is in a constant battle with the world, but in reality is in a constant battle with himself. Mortimer is a walking, talking anxiety disorder, and he has to overcome his reason for being (or not being as it were) to save himself, his friends, and the all of life, not mention the afterlife. There’s more to that, but it would give too much away.

A common complaint that I have with bizarro books and independent writers is that the editing can leave a little to be desired. That is not the case with this book. The editing is sublime and clean, making it easy to read. I wish more independent writers and publishers would take a little more time to clean things up a bit, because it makes a huge difference. Kudos to the author and editor for this.

If I have a complaint about this book, it’s that it beats you over the head with the theme a little bit. Yes, Mortimer has a generalized and social anxiety disorder (although come to think of it, that’s never explicitly said in the book). And yes, I know it’s the theme of the book, but sometimes I felt like I just wanted to move on to the next subject. Move the story forward. Keep the character development going. I’ll point out that there is indeed character development and growth, and it feels kind of deep for a bizarro book. It’s almost comes off like a modern bizarro fable.

Something to note about this book is that, for a bizarro book, it’s actually relatively tame. While most bizarro books include lots of sex and violence, and while there is some in this book, it’s very lightly done, and Wargo takes a much gentler hand with the reader, focusing more on great plot and character development over shock value. It’s kind of refreshing.

Avoiding Mortimer is part of the 2012-2013 class of the New Bizarro Authors Series, which means that this is Wargo’s first published novel. And it’s an excellent start. I’ll be looking forward to Wargo’s future work.

Avoiding Mortimer by J.W. Wargo earns 4.5 shots of love out of 5.

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