~by Kevin Dole 2

During the 2007 Ann Arbor Book Festival I attended a panel discussion entitled The Emerging Genres which focused on the many niche genres that have recently (and not so recently) come into existence. Despite a poor sound system, the discussion was lively and quite intriguing. One of the five authors (six if you count the moderator) was Kevin Dole 2, who spoke about his first novel Tangerinephant and what is now known as Bizarro Fiction. (The term was coined in 2005, but it seems he doesn't personally care for the word choice.) I enjoyed the talk and decided to pick up a copy of his book as he had peaked my interest and I had never even heard of bizarro fiction before.

A few months later, I finally got around to reading this slim (a mere 157 pages) volume. It was inventive, strange, weird. And it was most certainly bizarre.

I absolutely loved it.

Michael Tangerinephant is a highly successful advertisement designer. Or at least he was. Unfortunately he's been framed for a trillion dollar scandal, his prostitute girlfriend is not just a little upset with him, and he's not too happy with his employers (and neither are they with him). Of course, it doesn't help that he keeps being abducted by aliens obsessed with really bad television programming, either. Sometimes, enough is enough.

There's not a lot of background or world-building in the novel; most of it's just hinted at rather than actually explained in detail. Dole does some fantastically creative things with his use of the English language and sentence structure (ah...the magic of parentheses and forward slashes). Bizarro fiction is not for everyone (but really, what genre is?). It requires a bit of an open mind and the willingness to hold on for the ride. Although I'm new to the genre, I feel that Tangerinephant was a great place to start with its mixture of satire, cyberpunk, and just plain strange.