A few weeks ago, I was in New Hope, Pennsylvania, to meet my friend Sean for coffee. As it turns out, I arrived early and, as chronicled elsewhere on this blog, had some time to kill and wandered over to one of my favorite independent bookstores where I met a pair of writers who did their best to talk me out of buying their books. But I bought them anyway and was rewarded by one of the authors with a used VHS copy of Man on Fire starring Denzel Washington. The book, the author promised, would explain everything. The author in question was Josh Myers, and his novel is called Feast of Oblivion.
Before I get into my review of Feast of Oblivion, I should note that I didn’t really get a good look at the book or the videotape before I hurried off to meet my friend for coffee. As a result, I didn’t realize that the cover of the book was emblazoned with what looks like a confused — or possibly dancing — swastika and that the videotape was stamped with the same insignia. This led to an awkward moment during which I attempted to explain what I was doing with such an odd and fascist looking book and VHS tape in my possession, tried to blame Josh Myers for foisting questionable merchandise upon me, and then gave up when I remembered that he and his accomplice, Jordan Krall, had, in fact, attempted to talk me out of buying their wares.
But their wares, it turns out, kept me amused, if occasionally grossed out, for the next week or so as I became reacquainted with that most curious of postmodern genres, bizarro fiction. And, for what it’s worth, Feast of Oblivion is a shining example of that genre’s conventions. The premise, for one thing, is ridiculous: a self-styled halibut expert visits an underground fortress and accidentally uncovers a plot to destroy the universe. On top of that, there’s plenty of scatological imagery, weird sexual activity, and Lewis Carroll-esque dream logic. In other words, Feast of Oblivion is a delightful romp through a perverse dreamscape in which New Jersey has been reduced to a desert, staircases spiral infinitely upward, and the fate of the universe is in the hands of a man who is obsessed with halibut.
I’d say more, but I’m afraid I’d give too much away.
And then I’d have the halibut to answer to.