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Topic: The Weirdest Book I've Read in a Long Time

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Subject: The Weirdest Book I've Read in a Long Time
Date Posted: 5/29/2008 1:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2008
Posts: 3
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Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a  Chemical Boyhood, by Oliver Sacks. The writing style isn't weird, just the man's autobiography. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but you sure can't make up fiction stories any stranger than people's real lives! First line: "Many of my childhood memories are of metals: these seemed to exert a power on me from the start."

Part of back blurb: "We meet Sack's extraordinary family, from his surgeon mother (who introduces the fourteen-year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection) and his father, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his "Uncle Tungsten," whose factory produces tungsten-filament lightbulbs. We follow the young Oliver as he is exiled to a grim, sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz, and later watch as he sets aobut passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes--in his own home laboratory..."

It reminded me a little of The Snowflake Man, biography of Wilson A. Bentley, by Duncan C. Blanchard, about a man in Vermont who spent most of his life photographing snowflakes in the shed.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 7:56 AM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2007
Posts: 1,680
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The wierdest book I've ever read was "Coldheart Canyon" by Clive Barker.  It had old Hollywood ghosts, medieval lords, hunters and ordinary folks. 

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:36 AM ET
Member Since: 5/2/2008
Posts: 14
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I'll see your "Coldheart Canyon" (very strange in the classic Barker tradition) and raise you Hal Duncan's "Vellum." Leave it to a Scotsman to reinvent wierd.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
Posts: 2,246
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I had no idea Sacks had written his autobio - thank you!

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 12:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/11/2008
Posts: 33
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I've got Scream for Jeeves, which is a Jeeves and Wooster/H.P. Lovecraft crossover parody.  There's also The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a lovely little alphabet book of children's deaths by Edward Gorey.  "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs/B is for Basil assaulted by bears..."  I'm not even going to get into Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.

Date Posted: 6/8/2008 3:27 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
Posts: 12,886
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Hands down: Thomas McGuane's PANAMA.
Date Posted: 6/8/2008 9:27 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2005
Posts: 714
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Sticking with Clive Barker, I loved his Abarat books. Very weird.

Date Posted: 6/8/2008 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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A Wodehouse/Lovecraft crossover? That's the most intriguing premise I've heard in a long time.  Must check it out.

Date Posted: 6/8/2008 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/11/2008
Posts: 33
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Scream for Jeeves isn't actually quite as funny as I think it could have been, but something about turning "Charles Dexter Ward" into "The Rummy Affair of Young Charlie" cracks me up every time.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 6/8/2008 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Edward Gorey is awesome. :)

Date Posted: 6/8/2008 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2008
Posts: 426
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Secret Dead Men, by Duane Swierczynski, was pretty bizarre.  But I'm thinking I really have to look up the Wodehouse/Lovecraft book.

Date Posted: 6/9/2008 12:55 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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So are these books being mentioned like the literary equivalent of the movie Eraserhead?  Probably the most inexplicable books I've read were the ones for my genius & madnss philosophy class; Hunger by Knut Hamsun and The Piano Teacher by ElfriedeJelinek.  Didn't reallty enjoy either of those.

But I love Edward Gorey, my calendar is all Gorey art, and my favorite story of his is "the Beastly Baby".

Date Posted: 6/10/2008 11:06 AM ET
Member Since: 6/7/2008
Posts: 1
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Uncle Tungsten is one of my favorite books... but then, I'm a chemist.