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The Lexical Funk!

Daniel has wanted to be a writer ever since he was in elementary school.He has published stories and articles in such magazines as Slipstream, Black Petals, Spindrift, Zygote in my Coffee, and Leading Edge Science Fiction. He has written four books: The Sage and the Scarecrow (a novel), the Lexical Funk (a short story collection), Reejecttion (short story/ essay collection), and The Ghosts of Nagasaki (a novel).

And now for something completely different: Rupert Dreyfus’s The Rebel’s Sketchbook

The Rebel's Sketchbook - Rupert Dreyfus


This book is called the “Rebel’s Sketchbook.” Is this book subversive? Is this book rebellious? I think it’s just a lot of fun. Also, it’s not entirely mean, either. There is no aftertaste of nastiness to the book (except for the story “Eat Nasty”). Most of the characters in the book are just archetypes anyway, so there is no problem when bad things happen to them.


Here is my very controversial take on why the book is good (one the author is free to argue with): The book is good because it is not subversive. When it is, it’s subversive in a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek sort of way that avoids the excesses of internet trolls, pundits, or conservatives who have adopted the form (but not the substance) of the 60s radical movements. In other words, it avoids the stupid subversiveness of the creatures of the age of phony outrage -- an age where people are outraged by everything, call themselves mavericks, but don’t need to have any coherent agenda.  


The establishment in this book doesn’t seem particularly real or threatening. It just seems ridiculous. Reality is inherently silly; thus, the philosophy is more Douglas Adams than Frankfurt School (Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse).


The book’s dedication reads: “Dedicated to all the rebels who long to be free…”


I never saw “freedom” as anything more than the personal search for freedom. For me this is a good thing, because typically large scale emancipation projects have usually ended in people trying to put other people in chains of a different sort.


Things that made me think he could write more good work: Rupert has an excellent sense of pacing, easy beats that offset dialogue nicely, and good comedic timing. In other words, he has a prose style that is evolved and carries stories easily from one scene to the next.


Something that might disappoint: There isn’t a coherent ideology that underpins these stories. Many of the stories have a light touch -- they are funny, they are dark, they have style and at times grace. But that’s about it. Also, some of the stories have endings that just seem to end for the end of it...for ends sake.  


Things that surprised me: Stories narrated from the perspective of inanimate objects.


Things that made me guffaw: Really, not laugh, but guffaw -- the clever use of a penis as a plot device (guffaw!); mentions of the Fingerbang Twins; politicians acting like idiots; hints and winks at Monty Python.


Things that made me think: “Sentenced” was one of the smartest stories in the book. Again, like the other stories, nothing in it made me want to rebel; but I thought it had a very smart take on social media. It was also a gripping and suspenseful mystery.

In the end...the book was a lot of fun and a very easy read. Cheers!