A collection of dated diary-style entries that come together to form nothing quite as conclusive as a novel, Steele’s debut chronicles a coming-of-age story for the surrealist in us all.
A young man from the La Grange suburbs of Chicago is embarking on a trip to LA, where he will live with his sister, Kim. Only his legs have stopped working in psychosomatic protest. Only there is a talking mold-mouth in the corner of his bedroom ceiling that has colonized his brain and established a “private line to [his] unconscious” via spores. Only the season inside the house no longer matches the season outside the house, and his father may not be real. Things don’t get any easier out west. Kim comes home with a pet which appears to be a “genetic hybrid dream portal canine-baby escapee” and clogs the kitchen drain with its teeth. The little black pills that make your “brain feel carbonated” also call into existence a norm-core hallucination named Larry who lurks about tepidly. Laurie, the narrator’s girlfriend, dumps him by moving to their landlord’s building in France, one of the many buildings he maintains around the world by “hand-pick[ing his] tenants to create perfect counterparts of the same building in each country.” Also, there is a decorative skull paperweight that has eaten the narrator’s soul. Also, his legs—replacement parts bestowed upon him by the mold-mouth back in La Grange—have started to visibly rot. Each segment of this bizarro novel is crafted as a speed-of-light vignette—a brief pulse that illuminates the sordid, the unsavory, the cruel, and the hilarious burden of the everyday. This project was originally conceived of as a blog, launched in 2013, and the results here still read like compiled entries in a medium that requires neither context nor the development of character, theme, motif, or any of the other typical hallmarks of a novel. The result is a sublimely contemporary study of a universal truth: Growing up is weird to do.
Inventive, funny, grotesque, and ribald—a book with something for everyone as long as no one demands that it makes sense.