Reviewed by: Arthur Graham
Approximate word count: 25-30,000
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Wol-vriey is a Nigerian author whose work has appeared in New Flesh, Medulla Review, and several print anthologies including Like Frozen Statues of Flesh and The Big Book of Bizarro. He has another book entitled Invasion of the Ass Chickens. When he isn’t writing, Wol-vriey can be found playing his guitar and admiring the work of Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer.
According to his blog, Wol-vriey recycles the ridiculous into “reasonable readable reality for the reader.” His philosophy of writing is WEIRRRD (Warp/Write Everything Into Realistic Ridiculous Readable Distorted Dream Dimension Descriptions). Astute readers may notice that there are a few letters missing from this acronym, but then again, the author is probably missing a few screws himself!
Read the full Bizarro Press interview with Wol-vriey here.
The Bizarro Story of I is, if nothing else, an appropriately titled book. It opens with a gang of spandex-wearing, cowboy-hatted bodybuilders who burst in through the kitchen wall one morning at breakfast, kidnapping the title character’s wife Anorexia and (adding injury to insult) absconding with his mouth as well. Believe it or not, things get a lot weirder from there...
Assisting I on his rescue mission are Stalker the bounty hunter, his ex girlfriend Nasty, and a half rat/half sundae called Chocolate Mousse. Steroid cowboys, fearys, and the Meat Puppeteer are just a few of the obstacles they must overcome on this quest of truly bizarre proportions.
Since the bizarro genre itself is defined by over-the-top, genre-bending weirdness, it is only fair to consider bizarro stories with these conventions in mind. As should be expected, The Bizarro Story of I is rife with irreverent humor, absurd characters and situations, and more unbridled flights of fancy than you can shake a carnivorous, vagina-leafed stick at. In other words, readers with an aversion to such stuff would do well to stay far, far away. That said, it is this reviewer’s belief that a good bizarro story can be judged by how straight the author is able to tell it, and even the most potentially averse readers may be surprised by how effortlessly Wol-vriey manages to normalize even his most out-there material.
While frequent references to the title character “I” are somewhat jarring at points, causing us to wonder whether the story is written in first or third person, it doesn’t take long to catch on to the joke. By the time we get to “From its clothes, I thought the person was male” just a few short chapters in, we are already well aware of what Wol-vriey is up to with this play on perspective.
Certainly not everyone will like this type of book, but for readers who have never read anything “bizarro” before, The Bizarro Story of I is probably interesting enough to warrant a look. Besides, at a mere 99 cents for Kindle, it’s probably a better investment than anything on the McDonald’s value menu.
Some sex, violence, and language that may be inappropriate for small children and little old ladies.
A few typos here and there, but nothing detrimental. Some odd grammatical constructions may owe themselves to the author’s status as a non-native English speaker, and may actually add something to the unorthodox narrative style.
Rating: **** Four stars