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It Came From Below the Belt, by Bradley Sands Book Review | SFReader.com
It Came From Below the Belt, by Bradley Sands Genre: Bizarro Publisher: Afterbirth Books Published: 2006 Review Posted: 7/10/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
It Came From Below the Belt, by Bradley Sands
Book Review by C. Dennis Moore
Have you read this book?
Wow. That was TEDIOUS!
Grover Goldstein is eaten by a giraffe/time machine and ejected into the future. How far? Does it matter? Did you not see the part about being eaten by the giraffe/time machine? So anyway, Grover comes to in a cafe and meets his future self whom he accompanies back to a crappy apartment and blows in the shower. When he wakes up, the body is gone, but the penis, a sentient entity that calls itself The Unnamable, is still lodged in his mouth. The penis tells Grover he knows where there's a hidden time machine and he'll help Grover get back to his own time if Grover helps him/it achieve its goal: the Presidency.
You know, I could probably stop right there and let you draw your own conclusions, but I don't think a simple synopsis, however absurd, can truly convey the awfulness of this book.
They call this style "Bizarro". Let's recall Bizarro is a Superman villain, the anti-Superman. Everything he does is the opposite of how we know it to be. Hello is "Goodbye", rich is poor, tattered is fancy, and so on. With that in mind, Bizarro fiction, if It Came from Below the Belt is any indication, is the opposite of, let's see, GOOD fiction. Plot is an afterthought, style is on a whim, and any sense of holding a reader's interest is thrown out the window. If this is what Bizarro fiction is all about, no thanks.
In the future, attendance isn't called alphabetically. Instead, it goes according to penis and clitoris size. Unfortunately, my name was the first on the list.
"Present," I said.
To my further embarrassment, Assumption High's attendance procedure called for you to get up on your desk and announce your presence with an improvised dance. Mrs. Nitro, the homeroom teacher, whooped and threw change at me.
Please feel free to groan. I did.
From what I can gather, the Bizarro style--at least in THIS book--is based on the kind of wordplay Douglas Adams excelled at and which no one else can quite pull off successfully.
A girl with the face of a horse-drawn carriage handed me the lung. I passed it along without glancing at it. An angry hand gave it back and signed something to the effect of that I should really give the lung another chance. It was burnt black and leaking fluid. It was now stuck to me in a most inappropriate location.
Face of a horse-drawn carriage, you see what he did there? Wasn't that funny? Or there's
A man named Grassy Noel haunted the halls of The Not-Really-White-More-Like-Dirty-Gray House and did all the real work. He wasn't the spirit of a post-human Moonsylvanian citizen. Instead, he was an illegal alien from a galaxy far, far away, who, peculiarly enough, looked more human than most humans (especially those who depend on public transportation too get them to work), and was alive and less than well, frozen inside a block of carbonite hidden in plain view as a centerpiece in the presidential food court and getting his money's worth out of the astral projection seminar taken during his experimental phase.
It's all cute and charming for about a page. After that, you're looking for plot and it just never appears. It Came from Below the Belt is not a novel, it's an exercise in frustration as the reader tries to get from one page to the next without throwing the thing across the room.
But wait, you say, you just don't get it. It's obviously beyond you. No, believe me, I get it. I just don't like it. Maybe it was all those novels I've read in my life that insisted on a discernible plot, life-like characters, writing with substance. Oddly enough, author Sands outs himself on page 30 with this phrase: studying the fine art of deluding the public into believing that you're hip and cutting edge when you're really just being silly.
Yeah, I'm familiar with that concept. I just read 190 pages of it. Put your copy of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" away and stop trying to be someone you're not. Adams pulled it off because, as silly and nonsensical as those books were, they still had a certain cohesion. They were silly as a result of the plot, not just because Adams had a knack for thinking of stupid stuff off the top of his head. I mean, hell, anyone can do that:
He was suddenly brought to a halt when he realized his car had turned into a giant kaiser roll. As he stepped out of his kaiser roll, he wondered, "Who left this ice cream here?" As it happened, the annual Giant Ice Cream Sundae-Fest had just wrapped and he found himself ankle-deep in a puddle of Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby. Before he could extricate himself, a dog wandered over and told him he was wanted on the telephone.
See, it doesn't take talent to string together a bunch of nonsense; I can do it in three seconds. Aren't I brilliant? But to do it in a way that tells a story a reader is interested in, that's what Adams was good at. Sands is not. It Came from Below the Belt is just another excuse to publish a book without having to learn to write first. Did I write a load of really crappy books in a past life and I have to make up for it now, or what? How do these books find me? My kingdom for a novel written by someone who knows what they're doing and actually shows a respect for the art.
Don't believe the hype. "Bizarro" is not some new cutting edge genre, it's nothing more than a bunch of nonsense with a binding. At least I'm done with it and can move onto something that, hopefully, isn't utter crap.
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Comment on It Came From Below the Belt, by Bradley Sands
Comments on It Came From Below the Belt, by Bradley Sands
Posted by Bradley Sands on 4/13/2010
So you want to review my new book, right C?
Posted by Henry Django Price on 5/10/2008
Having read this book, I can understand what the reviewer is saying about it being confusing (though I enjoyed it more than the review did, obviously).
However to him I'll say this:
I think perhaps you should probably read some other books in the Bizarro genre before dismissing it (books by Carlton Mellick III, Kevin Donihe, Andersen Prunty, to name a few). You can't judge a genre by just one author.
Example..If you read a bad Louis L'Amour novel, does that mean you will never read another western novel based on just that one book? With all due respect, that'd be pretty closed-minded.