My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Flash fiction is a weird animal in literature. It can be so short that it doesn’t allow meaning to enter into anything unless the author knows what they’re doing. Still, in the right hands flash fiction can be a brilliant vehicle to get the point across quickly.
Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy by Bradley Sands is a collection of flash fiction and prose poetry that engages in a lot of experimentation and pushes the boundaries with how far an author can play with the rules before the narrative, even a very brief narrative, falls apart.
To start, you’ll notice something right away: Most of these stories are very brief, in some cases being only a short paragraph long. Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy is kind of like Robot Chicken: The Novel (which doesn’t exist; it’s just a personal dream of mine). You get quick cuts of things that seem to be completely random with an occasional longer story, although nothing that’s really that long. From the Pope getting sued to a war that breaks out over greeting cards, this covers everything that has nothing to do with each other and somehow makes them relate. Some stories even have some touching commentary on real-world perspectives, like how a child can see their parent as invincible.
You might notice how above I said that it pushes the boundaries before a narrative falls apart. In this book, Sands walks that line very carefully, and the way he describes everything as though it’s the most normal stuff in the world adds to that effect. I found myself almost hearing these stories read to me in a deadpan fashion. While a few of the stories were a little off, none of them actually crosses that lines into total collapse. Some of these stories straight-up shine. It was a really fascinating experience to read this book. There are a lot more gems than stinkers here.
As far as bizarro fiction goes, it definitely qualifies. Believe me, nothing about any of these stories qualify as normal. In fact, that might be a bit of a sticking point for some. While collections of short pieces could be a good introduction for someone into the bizarro genre, I can’t recommend this for newbies. Some of this is so bizarre that it would likely leave the uninitiated confused, if not send them straight to the looney bin babbling about Tao Lin with golden eyebrows.
A volume worth your time, this book is recommended but only for those that already have a little bizarro under their belt or might already be unhinged enough the get Sands’ special brand of madness, and if you do then please seek help. The small size of the stories make it easy to read and take a break whenever you need to, but the stories may still be too surreal for the uninitiated. And even for the initiated, it’s not perfect and not every story will be for everyone. While good, this book is completely non-traditional and experimental, so be warned. Personally, I happen to like more experimental fiction, and even when it doesn’t always work, I still respect the author for trying something new.
Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy by Bradley Sands earns 4 ape smoothies out of 5.