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By Jason Tanamor
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
So here's an interesting question for contemplation: Is there such a thing as a "standard" bizarro novel, and is it even possible to have such a definition? After all, part of what marks this underground literary genre is that it consists of books that are the most out-there out of all of them, strange and cartoonish stories whose plots change radically from one title to the next. But that said, after now reading hundreds of such books as part of running this website, I must admit that Jason Tanamor's Drama Dolls comes uncomfortably close to containing that fabled "checklist" that such an uncheckable genre like bizarro by all rights shouldn't have, but yet is seeming to slowly come together these days anyway, as more and more bizarro authors start existing in our 21st-century society. Subversive main characters who live on the edges of polite society? Check! Their subversion having to also do with the LGBT community? Check! These main characters acting out through cartoonishly violent, Tarantino-style criminal acts? Check! The entire thing written in a deadpan style reminiscent of a fable or children's tale? Check and mate! I don't mean to pick out Tanamor's book specifically for criticism, because certainly it's not badly done at all; but it is a good example of how even this genre for "literature on the edge" is starting to get awfully commodified at this point, which to be fair says more about the oversaturation of the contemporary novel industry than it does about any one particular bizarro author. Enjoyable for what it is, I must also confess that Drama Dolls left me at the end sort of shrugging my shoulders a bit and muttering "meh," a book that's not bad by any means but that nonetheless will probably only appeal to hardcore bizarro fans and no one else. It should be kept in mind before picking up a copy.
Out of 10: 7.8, or 8.8 for fans of bizarro literature