My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Who needs a fourth wall?
Not G. Arthur Brown, and especially not in Kitten, part of the 2012-2013 class of the New Bizarro Author series, meaning that this is his first published book. As a freshman effort, how does it stack up?
In Kitten, you really get two stories. The first story follows Amaand (not a mispelling), a mother who is concerned about a dead girl with perfect teeth (or undead, as she is a result of her father-in-law’s experiments) visiting her son, an ex-husband who very publicly tells everyone about how he feels she wronged him, and a strange man called the Collector who has an unhealthy interest in the dead girl, her son, and her son’s kitten that is not a kitten but rather a weird deformed squirrel thing that vomits postal stamps from around the world. That’s just one story.
The other story involves the kitten who is not a kitten, although now it’s a kitten, wandering a strange land after being forcibly removed from the previous story into his own story and trying to find a way back to the original story. Still following me? There are lots of pop culture references in this one, and Brown seems to like playing with the reader this way throughout much of the book.
That bring me to the odd feeling that this book gives the reader. Aside from being the most surreal of this year’s class of NBAS books, it’s also an experimental novel on a fundamental level. Brown’s characters acknowledge the reader more than once without directly addressing them, and acknowledge the writer of this story. The characters even realize that they’re characters in a story. It creates this weird meta feel which makes the book genuinely unpredictable. At times, the story even comes off like it could have been one of Brown’s fever dreams. Just look at the cover!
The editing is actually pretty good, something that’s been an issue in the bizarro genre on more than one occasion. Does this make it a good novel? Not in and of itself, but if you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know that poor editing is a pet peeve of mine, and that’s something that I can’t fault this book for.
If you’re looking for something that’s not just weird but downright surreal, but at the same time is relatively tame compared to most bizarro books when it comes to sex and violence, you’ll have a good time with Kitten. However, if this is not something you’re looking for, you will probably not get much out of it. The book definitely has a certain charm and a sense of fun, but it takes a particular mindset to get into it. Aspects of the story do remain incomplete, but for the purposes of this book and the story the author wanted to tell, it remains relatively self-contained. This is his world after all, something which we get reminded of. While not perfect, Kitten is worth the short time it takes to read, even if it could trigger fever dreams of your own.
Kitten by G. Arthur Brown earns 4 international postage stamps out of 5.