Off-beat, Eclectic, Quirky, Slightly Askew Fiction

Fiction ranging from Redneck Gothic to really dysfunctional families to just plain, well, different. If you like stories that are a teensy bit bent, these titles are for you.

The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts

By Louis de Bernieres

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"This rambunctious first novel by the author of the bestselling Corelli's Mandolin is set in an impoverished, violent, yet ravishingly beautiful country somewhere in South America. When the haughty Dona Constanza decides to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, the consequences are at once tragic, heroic, and outrageously funny."

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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 Buzzing

By Jim Knipfel

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"Meet Roscoe Baragon–crack reporter at a major (well, maybe not that major) metropolitan newspaper. Baragon covers what is affectionately called the Kook Beat–where the loonies call and tell him in meticulously deranged detail what it’s like to live in their bizarre and lonely world. Lately Baragon’s been writing stories about voodoo curses and alien abductions; about fungus-riddled satellites falling to earth and thefts of plumbing fixtures from SRO hotels by strange aquatic-looking creatures. Not exactly New York Times material.

"Maybe it’s the radioactive corpse that puts him over the edge. Or maybe it’s the guy who claims to have been kidnapped by the state of Alaska! But Baragon is now convinced that a vast conspiracy is under way that could take the whole city down–something so deeply strange that it could be straight out of one of the old Japanese monster movies that he watches every night before he goes to sleep. But stuff like this only happens in the movies. Right?"

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A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

By Julian Barnes

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An eccentiric, playfully skewed, surprisingly comprehensive chronicle of life on Planet Earth. A novel whose threads of coincidence and hidden connection are woven into a narrative tapestry brilliant with wit, intelligence, and emotion.
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Vernon God Little

By D.B.C. Pierre

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"In the town jail of Martirio, Texas--under the terrifying care of the dynastic Gurie family, and wearing only his New Jack trainers and underpants--15-year-old Vernon Little is in trouble. His friend, the mysterious Jesus, has just blown away 16 of his classmates before turning the gun on himself."
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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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Mr. White's Confession

By Robert Clark

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Heading a police investigation into the brutal murder of a showgirl, Lt. Wesley Horner zeroes in on Herbert White, an eccentric recluse whose spends his days writing gushing fan letters to Hollywood starlets.
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Motherless Brooklyn

By Jonathan Lethem

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"A black comedy in New York's criminal underworld. The twitching hero--he suffers from Tourette's syndrome--is one of four misfits who were rescued from an orphanage by a man who gave them jobs in his detective agency. Now the man has been killed and the boys intend to get the killer."

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Love Is a Racket

By John Ridley

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"Everything's a racket for Jeffty Kittridge, a thirty- seven-year-old ex-wannabe scriptwriter living on the skids in Hollywood--the two-bit cons he pulls for spending money; the way he convinces himself that he's not a drunk between every shot of booze he kicks back; the way he tries to assure Dumas, the local shark, that he's just about to pay off his 15K debt . . . Except he's not good at any of that. He's been in jail twice (and the state's got a bad attitude about seeing someone the third time); that bug he just felt crawling up his neck is most likely the first installment of the DTs; and Dumas recently delivered a fairly emphatic payment-due reminder: a couple of his goons busted two of Jeffty's fingers.

"The fact is, Jeffty's a loser, big as they come, and things aren't about to change up for him anytime soon: 'I would've felt . . . near terminally depressed,' he tells us as his story begins to unfold, 'but I was so used to my life all I felt was content.' Then he stumbles on salvation: a dirt-caked, street-hardened, exquisitely beautiful young homeless woman named Mona--Jeffty prefers to think of her as Angel--who inspires both his love and the idea for the perfect con."

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Give Us a Kiss: A Country Noir

By Daniel Woodrell

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Novelist Doyle Redmond of California, whose whodunits are getting nowhere, returns to the Ozarks in the hope that a stay in his native land will provide inspiration to achieve fame.
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