order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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“They promised always to treasure the bubble gum man”

April 29, 2009


I had a ball last night at the Bookslut reading at the Hopleaf. On the recommendation of the Forgotten Books blog, I started the evening with the Hopleaf’s brisket sandwich, and it was hands-down the most delicious brisket I’ve ever tasted.

I also got a chance to meet Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin and Caroline Eick (and Caroline’s arm candy Ryan). They were charming and gracious, especially when I asked Jessa the question I’m sure she’s heard a million times, “So why are you moving to Berlin?” She claimed it’s because she’s secretly Gunter Grass’ lover, and she wants to be with him in his final days. (Just as I suspected.) Thanks, everyone at Bookslut, for allowing me to read!

Thanks also to the other reader of the evening, Christian Moerk, who read some tantalizing passages from his acclaimed novel Darling Jim. During the Q&A, while Christian was answering a question, I leaned on the jukebox, inadvertently causing it to start putting on a record. In a panic I unplugged the jukebox, making myself into an even bigger buffoon. Luckily, it was a forgiving crowd.

I also got to befriend two local fans of The Order of Odd-Fish whom I had hitherto only known online. It turns out they live right around the corner from Heather and me! We immediately began hatching schemes. One of the schemes is so cool that I can’t bring myself to mention it publicly, lest I jinx it. Suffice it to say that we are planning to render one of the Odd-Fish characters in liquid form. Whaaaaat! Yes.

Odd-Fish Week” continues in high style on Murphblog. Today, in Part 3, I talk about my next planned book The Magnificent Moots, I reveal the true source of bad reviews, and share the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on the Internet. (Hint: “I’m Ben Bernanke, and I need your teeth for the Federal Reserve.”)

Speaking of blogs . . . my Odd-Fish Google alert has brought quite a few other interesting blogs to my attention. One of them has a suggestion I wholeheartedly endorse. It’s by Fulbright scholar teaching English in Madrid (who wrote her thesis on Alice in Wonderland, no less). She writes in her blog A Shrewdness of Apes (great name!) that Odd-Fish is “stuffed with symbolism and intriguing themes. Are there any academics out there looking for a kids book to write about? Choose this one. I can’t wait to read the articles that come out of The Order of Odd-Fish.

Finally! Ever since I was a very young child, I’ve been waiting for the ivory tower to catch up with me. Now the gauntlet is thrown. Postmodern literary scholars, queer theorists, postcolonialists, deconstructionists: I’ve created a verdant, blossoming meadow for you to graze. I’ve laid out a mouth-watering feast for you to tear apart with your terrifying steel molars. I’ve run a warm, soapy bath of signifiers for you to splash and paddle and heave about your massive, pale, disconcertingly hairy bodies in. Get interpreting, eggheads! My office hours are inside your brain. Wait, what?

I also was happy to learn about the Tumblr blog Museum of Idiots, which found Odd-Fish “terrifically diverting” but did fault it for minor “absurdity leakage.” No matter; the solution is “you just have to think like a kid. And then, oh boy, will you enjoy this book!” She said “it made me feel very old,” which is funny, because her Tumblr makes me feel the same way. Seriously, it’s updated four or five times a day! Where does she get the time? Anyway, my favorite part of the review was the ending: “I just worry my next read will fall flat in comparison.” This made me quite proud of myself. It’s the highest praise I can think of: to destroy pleasure in every book but mine.

And now on to today’s entry for the Write An Ending For The Strange Ship Part 2 contest. This one, from Jacob T, might be the most casually horrifying and yet mythically resonant entry yet.

The bubblegum monster, once thought of as an enemy, turns out to be a friend. In fact, he is such a great-souled friend that he lays down his life for the moneymen, who must gruesomely devour the bubble gum monster in order to access the switch that, once flipped, will “make everything better.” Never has a deus ex machina come with a heavier price! Not only is the planet healed, but Carziperes miraculously has a new foot, and the Strange Ship aliens and moneymen have become friends.

There is, I dare say, a theological depth here that raises the whole story to a new level. I’ll be pondering this one for a while, Jacob T.

Thanks again, Jacob T. Great work!