The Toy Collector


James Gunn - 2000
    An orderly at a Times Square hospital, he buys his toys at exorbitant prices, searching the familiar tacky plastic in a perverse effort to avoid adulthood. As the story switches from the make-believe world he creates with his childhood friends-populated by Scrunch-Em, Grow-Em Dinosaurs and toy robots-to the grown-up pleasures of sex, drugs and alcohol, James falls in and out of love, and stumbles through New York City in search of dubious redemption.

Zanesville


Kris Saknussemm - 2005
    Following tantalizing clues that point to the gnomic Stinky Wiggler, and pursued by murderous Vitessa agents, Clearfather embarks on a surreal odyssey of self-discovery across an America that resembles a vast amusement park designed by some unholy trinity of Walt Disney, Hunter S. Thompson, and Hieronymus Bosch. Accompanying Clearfather is an unforgettable cast of characters–including Aretha Nightingale, an ex-football-playing drag queen; Dooley Duck and Ubba Dubba, hologram cartoon characters sprung outrageously to life; and the ethereally beautiful Kokomo, whose past is as much a mystery as Clearfather’s own.By turns hilarious and deeply moving, a savage, fiercely intelligent satire that is also a page-turning adventure and a transcendent love story, Zanesville marks the arrival of a brilliant new voice in fiction.

Awesome


Jack Pendarvis - 2008
    A giant who builds robots, sweats mescaline, and kisses like a dream. From the rocky coast of New England to the golden hay fields of Stockton, California, he searches for America’s greatest treasures. You might recognize him by the twinkle in his eye or the lustrous derby hat perched on top of his boulder-sized head.But for a dude who has it all, he sure seems sad a lot of the time — what’s up with that? And what exactly does he plan to do with all of those wonderful treasures, besides cart them around the country in his enormous red wagon? Is there someone, a beautiful lady named Glorious Jones, perhaps, who has asked him to gather the bounty of America in order to prove his love for her?There’s no way to know, unless you buy Jack Pendarvis’s awesome new novel and read it. Or have someone read it to you. Either way, laughter, wisdom, and good times are sure to follow…

Repeat


Neal Pollack - 2015
    Each “repeat,” Brad wakes up in the womb on what was supposed to be his fortieth birthday, with full knowledge of what’s come before. In various timelines, he becomes a successful political pundit, a game-show champion, a playboy, and a master manipulator of the stock market, but none of them seem to lead him out of his predicament. As he realizes he wants to break out of the loop and find the love of his life—the one he hadn’t appreciated the first time around—Brad tries, fails, and tries again to escape the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Repeat answers the question: If you could live half your life over, would you do things differently? Be careful what you wish for! Repeating is enough to drive a dude crazy.

Quicksand


Steve Toltz - 2015
    Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As Aldo's luck worsens, Liam is inspired to base his next book on his best friend's exponential misfortunes and hopeless quest to win back his one great love: his ex-wife, Stella. What begins as an attempt to make sense of Aldo's mishaps spirals into a profound story of faith and friendship.With the same originality and buoyancy that catapulted his first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, onto prize lists around the world—including shortlists for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award—Steve Toltz has created a rousing, hysterically funny but unapologetically dark satire about fate, faith, friendship, and the artist's obligation to his muse. Sharp, witty, kinetic, and utterly engrossing, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of twenty-first-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity.

Another Roadside Attraction


Tom Robbins - 1971
    It tell us, for example, what the sixties were truly all about, not by reporting on the psychedelic decade but by recreating it, from the inside out. In the process, this stunningly original seriocomic thriller is fully capable of simultaneously eating a literary hot dog and eroding the borders of the mind.

Great Apes


Will Self - 1998
    With Great Apes, Self takes readers into a sort of "Planet of the Apes" with a twist. Simon Dykes is a London painter whose life suddenly becomes Kafkaesque. After an evening of routine debauchery, traipsing from toilet to toilet and partaking in a host of narcotics, the middle-aged painter wakes to discover that his girlfriend, Sarah, has turned into a chimpanzee. Simon is also a chimp, but he does not accept this fact—he is convinced that he is still human.He is then confined to an emergency psychiatric ward and placed under the care of alpha-psychiatrist Dr. Zack Busner. Simon finds chimp behavior a bit unnatural; he can't bring himself to use gestures rather than speech to communicate. He also finds it difficult to mate publicly or accept social grooming. Dr. Zack Busner—also a medical doctor, radical psychoanalyst, maverick axiolytic drug researcher, and former television personality—is prepared to help Simon get used to "chimpunity". It is during Simon's gradual simianization that Self's true satirical genius shines, as he examines anthropology, the trendy art world, animal rights, and much more.

Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable


Peter Ustinov - 1990
    An increasingly decrepit God and a merely ill-tempered Satan are reconciled and attempt a mission to Earth, where their misadventures point up the comedy and tragedy of modern life.

The Little White Car


Danuta de Rhodes - 2004
    When a concept album by The Sofia Experimental Breadboard Octet sparks a relationship-breaking argument, Veronique jumps into her little white Fiat and drives off into the night - straight into an incident with global ramifications.

The Blood Oranges


John Hawkes - 1972
    . . is naive? That our sexual selves are merely idylers in a vast wood?" Thus the central theme of John Hawkes's widely acclaimed novel The Blood Oranges is boldly asserted by its narrator, Cyril, the archetypal multisexualist. Likening himself to a white bull on Love's tapestry, he pursues his romantic vision in a primitive Mediterranean landscape. There two couples—Cyril and Fiona, Hugh and Catherine—mingle their loves in an "lllyria" that brings to mind the equally timeless countryside of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Crystal Eaters


Shane Jones - 2014
    As a city encroaches daily on the village, threatening their antiquated life, and the earth grows warmer, Remy sets out to accomplish something no one else has: to increase her sick mother’s crystal count. An allegory, fable, touching family saga and poetic sci-fi adventure, Shane Jones underlines his reputation as an inspired and unique visionary.

Infinite Jest


David Foster Wallace - 1996
    Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human—and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

Sex and Sunsets


Tim Sandlin - 1987
    But Kelly really sails off the edge when he spies a beautiful bride just before her wedding. All Kelly has to do is convince Collette to dump her husband and take a chance on a man she thinks is crazy-before her in-laws and the law can put him away.

The Cardboard Universe: A Guide to the World of Phoebus K. Dank


Christopher Miller - 2009
    Dank have long enflamed bitter controversy—and numerous drunken rants often culminating in vomiting, unconsciousness, or both. In this uproarious novel, Christopher Miller pulls back the curtain on two unforgettable critics—fawning scholar William Boswell (the world's leading Dankian) and his mortal enemy, the murderously snarky Owen Hirt. No stone is left unturned—and no gooey mess unstepped in—in this essential study of Dank's all-too-brief existence and all-too-extensive oeuvre.

The Gradual


Christopher Priest - 2016
    A rich and involving tale of the creative mind, the rigours of living under war and the nature of time itself.Alesandro grows up in Glaud, a fascist state constantly at war with a faceless opponent. His brother is sent off to war; his family is destroyed by grief. Occasionally he catches glimpses of islands in the far distance from the shore, and they feed into the music he composes—music for which he is feted. His search from his brother brings him into contact with the military leadership and suddenly he is a fugitive on the run—he seeks refuge on the islands and his endless travels take him through places and time, bringing him answers where he could not have foreseen them.