This isn’t a book for everyone. (I’m quite the salesman, aren’t I?) Inspired and influenced by the wordplayful writings of Lewis Carroll, James Joyce, Edward Lear and John Lennon, Jim Shorts is a decidedly non-mainstream collection of 50 stories, poems and specialty forms (playlets, advice column, letter, magazine article, etc.) with line drawing illustrations. In an era more suited to soundbites and short attention spans, the dense wordplay and punning preclude this from being a quick and easy read. Evelyn Wood herself, rest her speed-reading soul, would have been hard-pressed to zoom through my pages, at least without grasping the enhanced meanings the altered spellings and fused words add to these fictional pieces. Therein lies the key. The strange words are not arbitrary and haphazard. This is not merely a trunkload of malaprops (though there are many). This is not Norm Crosby on acid. No, most every syllable is deliberate and, more often than not, contextual. Some of the poems do appear in “straight” language, placed at intervals to clear the mental palette, as it were, but the majority of the book is stylistically what has become known as Joycean. Actually, while indebtedly tipping a glass and raising a hat to those afourmentioned authors, I would prefer, at the very least, Geoycean. Or better yet, Georgean.
How would I categorize it? Nonsense? Sure. Surreal? Definitely. Absurdist? Guilty. Avant-garde? Fair enough. Experimental? OK, but no Bunsen burners were used in the creation of this book. Above all that, humor–be it black, satirical or just plain wacky–is the aim. And in my art of arts, I do believe it’s a very funny book. Funny, punny and honey for those who are sweet on words and have a taste for cunninglinguistics. (Which reminds me, be advised there is adult content, albeit in distorted language.)
What are the stories and poems about? In plain English–unlike the stories themselves–“Blue Spaghetti” is about a floundering restaurateur who tries to spice up business by serving up a gimmicky, colorful dish called Pasta Azul. A disaffected young man with bad skin finds solace when he runs away to join other like-faced comrades in the “The Fresh Foreign Lesion.” A bandleader with a strict dress code faces a mutiny from players who want to wear shorts onstage in “The Litre of the Band.” “The Cardsharks” are a roving trio who goes door-to-door, forcing their hosts into playing card games for money that the intruders invariably win. In “Orville’s Raccoon Problem,” the protagonist faces a murder charge for axing his mother-in-law while claiming that in the dark garage he mistook her for a large raccoon. Not quite feel-good stories. Then again, if they trigger anything from chuckles to guffaws in the reader, maybe they are.
After wasting far too much time chasing my tale(s) seeking a publisher and finding them unwilling to even read the book, self-publishing seemed my only option. However, that method, too, is problematic, as I cannot afford to print hard copies. Furthermore, due to the idiosyncrasies in the book’s layout, it cannot be uploaded to the usual ebook formats. Consequently, I have decided to release it on a grassroots (sha la la la la, I live for today) level as a simple PDF. As such, it can be viewed in a two-page open-book format, which is better suited to an illustrated offering like this. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s easily emailed, and, most importantly, it’s the book I created in the form I wanted without any interference from a muddleman.
And so, if any of you would like to try on Jim Shorts (one size fits all), I’m selling the PDF for $10 USD. Those interested can pay either via PayPal at email@example.com or directly to me at an address I’ll provide when you email.
Thanks for lending an eye.
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