Kral’s series of satirical vignettes tells of a town called Idiotville and its inhabitants.
These short stories—some enthralling, some baffling—work together to reveal the full scope of hilarious events in Idiotville. Kral’s skills as an inventive new author shine when describing the citizens’ antics, as simple moments twist into absurdist, fantastical scenarios, highlighting both the author’s imagination and his talent for drawing in readers. For instance, in “A Really Poor Use of a Time Machine,” time-traveling Bruce surprises Lisa with a visit to “the time of Christ” for Valentine’s Day. Lisa has an understandably anxiety-filled response: “Of course Bruce was worth it….He was smart, very smart. Sometimes too smart. Sometimes so smart he seemed retarded.” Kral captures the dissonance while remaining true to his narrator, an impressive skill that underlines the vignettes. In “The Sports,” the main character is the beleaguered father of a cheerleader. Kral uses this scenario to meditate on the sometimes absurd world of sports and competition. Kral doesn’t shy away from satirizing religion either: In “The Churches,” he adopts a riotously wild tone when describing the practices of the town’s church—the Church of Bob. Most memorable perhaps is the invented commercial in which a mother tells her children, “Drink up! There’s Blood of Bob in thirty delicious flavors, including orange, grape, root beer, and my favorite raspberry kiwi!” Her son answers, “Mommy, I want more so I can see God.” Most readers with a keen sense of humor will be able to discern that Kral’s writing is all in good fun, but sensitive readers could find the parody a bit distasteful. That’s both the strength and weakness of Kral’s writing: He pushes to the outer limits, exposing the surreal in our everyday lives.
A smart, funny read for anyone who enjoys a sharp satirical portrait of society.