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Everything Must Go
By La JohnJoseph
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
This is the second title I've now received by the intriguing ITNA Press, a small publisher dedicated to providing a home for especially dark, especially obtuse manuscripts; and "especially dark and obtuse" is a perfect description for playwright La JohnJoseph's newest book, a story on the serious side of the genre known generally as "bizarro" (a genre with just as large a humorous side, to be clear), set in an undated future where an apocalypse has disrupted all normal laws of physics and space/time on Earth, and where our main character can do things like age three years in a matter of days simply by choice, or have long convoluted psychic conversations with her still-gestating but fully mature baby who is still inside her womb. And that in a nutshell is always the problem with books like these, and why I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with bizarro novels in general; for while there is much to admire here simply in terms of style, audacity, and the pure beauty of the language itself being used, since this is little more plot-wise than a written-out cartoon that deliberately makes no narrative sense at all, I find it extremely difficult to get emotionally invested in books like these or even to finish them, instead tending to look at such titles as a great 50-page short story couched within a 200-page manuscript, and with it not really mattering where exactly you start and stop reading within that 200-page manuscript itself, a disappointing experience when you're a big fan of three-act novels like I am. Absolutely recommended (and strongly so) for existing fans of bizarro, that recommendation gets a lot trickier when it comes to the general public, and whether or not you should pick this up depends a lot on whether you read novels more for the story (in which case no) or for the writing (in which case definitely yes).
Out of 10: 8.0, or 9.0 for existing bizarro fans