So I’ve been pretty book happy in my last few personal posts, so I thought I’d keep it up one more time, and talk about the craziest book I have ever read, Fatal Love, by Brian Stewart. It’s not going to be for everybody, but if you are drawn to the camp, bizarre, and/or unbelievable, this may be the book for you. I describe this book as the literary version of a car crash. It’s horrible, but you can’t look away. For those of you who enjoy terrible movies because they are so bad they become good (Troll 2, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, etc.)… this is the book version. And believe it or not, but it’s available on Amazon. I’m almost hesitant to mention that, as I’m not sure I’d want to give this guy any money, but there are used copies that are on sale for a mere penny (no kidding, at least at last check), which is probably about what it deserves. So go that route.
I discovered it entirely by accident. When I travel, I love to browse used book stores. I found this in Arizona… Flagstaff, I believe, though I’m not 100% on that. I thought the cover was unusual, and the back cover equally so. It continued the faux wood graphic, and it had two quotes. The top quote said in a large font: “NON-STOP ACTION”.
The center text gave a quick synopsis: “Chad and Gina tempted fate by getting married and starting their own company, now they’re on a collision course with their decisions. As they watch all that they have built up destroy those around them, they have to face up to the truth of where their choices are heading them.” You may think I had a typo when I said “they’re”, not “their”, but that’s how it is on the book.
The bottom quote sounded like a review (spelling error and all, because “unraveling” should only have one “l”): “Rich characterization, imaginary locales and insightful unravelling of human emotions carries this story forward at breakneck speed. A truly enjoyable read.” Now, in addition to the misspelling, typically, after a quote like that, there would be an attribution… say, from the New York Times, or at least a local newspaper or reviewer. However, this had no attribute at all. It was just a quote, seemingly said out of context. It was an oddity to me already that the mere back cover of the book should have 3 major grammatical errors on it. Flipping through the book revealed a couple of pages with rather haunting pencil sketches, one of an angel, and the other of a group of ape-like demonic faces. Add to this a black and white photo of the author on the inside cover which had a not unattractive young man of maybe late 20’s or early 30’s, wearing a cowboy hat, poncho, and holding a rifle, who said he lived in Mesa, Arizona.
The book was on sale for 3 bucks, and it was already such a strange item, I bought it. Little did I know what I got myself into. Keep in mind it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but a lot of it has never left me, years later.
Turns out this is a major religious book. But not even in the normal sort of way. It deals with these kids who are trying to program some sort of cutting edge 3D computer game, but some are viewing it as a gateway for Satan. Oddly enough, God is almost never mentioned directly… but there are many, many repeated references to “The Mighty One” who loves us all. One of the characters may be gay, and struggles with his feelings. It’s a fairly large subplot of the book–so much so, you almost have to wonder if the author has any personal experience. As you can imagine, the book largely condemns it, but it a bizarre twist, which may or may not be intentional on the part of the author, there is a relatively lengthy section about 2/3 of the way in that comes across as surprisingly tolerant and understanding of being gay as he discusses his feelings with a priest(!). And for being a religious book, there are some very gory and violent deaths. Although I suppose the Bible does as well, so maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise.
It can be tough to follow the plot at times, because there are lots of misspellings, grammatical errors, and even abrupt shifts in point of view without warning. At one point, one of the characters ends up in the jungle (don’t ask me why), and encounters a loin. And we actually get to read a passage from the loin’s point of view. Truly bizarre. Oh, and those strange illustrations I mentioned earlier? The text of the book doesn’t even acknowledge them.
This book isn’t for everyone. But for those of you who are into this sort of thing… it is truly one of the best of the worst.