Off-beat, Eclectic, Quirky, Slightly Askew Fiction

The Hippopotamus

By Stephen Fry

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"A womanizing, drunken, failed poet and recently fired drama critic, cantankerous Ted Wallace seeks refuge from his problems at the country estate of his old friend Logan, the site of mysterious incidents centering around Logan's enigmatic son, David."

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

By Douglas Adams

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Minutes before the Earth is scheduled for demolition, Arthur Dent is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect and finds himself traveling the galaxy, armed with only a towel and the ultimate guidebook. Also available on audio.

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The Hotel du Lac

By Anita Brookner

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"...tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a pseudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own novels, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to resore her to her senses. But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love's casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure."

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The Intuitionist

By Colson Whitehead

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"It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and who dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects.

"Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department. But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues. Sabotage is the obvious explanation: It's an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist, and a colored one at that. But Lila Mae is never wrong.

"The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir. The notebooks describe Fulton's work on the 'black box,' a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever."

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The Lambs of God

By Marele Day

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"Three eccentric, secluded nuns live on a remote island, forgotten by time and the Church -- until a priest unwittingly happens upon them. He is as surprised to see the nuns as they are to see a flesh-and-blood man, and what follows is the strange, moving, and often hilarious story of their struggle -- a struggle of wills, and of faith."

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The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts and One Author's Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves

By Mark Sundeen

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"Mark Sundeen needed to stage a comeback. His first book was little read, rarely reviewed, and his book tour was cancelled. So when a careless big city publisher calls with an offer for a book about bullfighting, Mark assumes this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes.

"To be sure, Sundeen has never been to a bullfight. He doesn't speak Spanish. He's not even a particularly good reporter. Come to think of it, he's probably one of the least qualified people to write a book about bullfighting, even in the best of circumstances. But that doesn't stop Mark Sundeen.

"After squandering most of the book advance on back rent and debts, Sundeen can't afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds south of the border is tawdry and comical, and people seem much more interested in the concessions and sideshows. There's little of the passion and artistry and bravery that he'd hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses.

"To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer, in the tradition of his idol, Ernest Hemingway. But as his research falters, his money runs out, and the deadline approaches, Sundeen's high-minded fantasies are skewered by his second-rate reality. Eventually, Travis LaFrance steps in to take control, and our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by a preposterous, quixotic, and ultimately heartbreaking insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature."

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The Mammy

By Brendan O'Carroll

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"Chronicles with raw humor and great affection the comic misadventures of a large and lively North Dublin family in the 1960s."
Later made into the film, Agnes Brown--starring Angelica Huston.

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The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living

By Martin Clark

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"Hung over, beaten by the unforgiving sun, bitter at his estranged wife, and dreading the day’s docket of petty criminal cases, Judge Evers Wheeling is in need of something on the morning he's accosted by Ruth Esther English. Ruth Esther's strange story certainly is something, and Judge Wheeling finds himself in uncharted territory. Reluctantly agreeing to help Ruth Esther retrieve some stolen money, he recruits his pot-addled brother and a band of merry hangers-on for the big adventure."

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The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

By Steven Sherrill

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The half-man, half-bull supposedly slain by Theseus in the labyrinth is actually working as a cook at Grub's Rib in a small town in North Carolina.
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The New York Trilogy: City of Glass: Ghosts: The Locked Room

By Paul Auster

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"Paul Auster’s great trilogy of 1985–1986 broke ground in its mix of serious fictional techniques and detective and mystery genres. Since that time it has become one of the most successful series of novels of the last decades..."

In the first of the trilogy, City of Glass, a detective novelist makes a phone call and finds himself enmeshed in suddenly puzzling reality.

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