Mini Non-Spoiler Synopsis:
Nick is a conflicted and slightly damaged person; although a good guy he has a past linked to alcohol abuse. With a number of colorful friends and family members, Nick sees his life and his relationships as a series of lists; indeed he thinks in lists. As he moves awkwardly through his difficulties, self doubt, and hilarious quirkiness, we see the “horror” of his insecurities through these lists. While he is connecting with family and friends he comes to realize through a series of related events that he has been cursed. A few of his friends share this curse too, so naturally drama, psychological distress, and some paranormal horror and dark humor ensues.
(This short novel was nominated for the Bram Stoker 2009 Award.)
This is not your typical horror book, since there is only a slight amount of gore. The true horror in Cursed is actually the internal struggle within the main character’s mind and in his day to day life. Reading about it is bearably funny because of the subtle and quirky humor around Nick’s hilarious and relatable lists. Be aware that it is an uncomfortable humor which many of us may relate to, though some will not. It has a dry, offbeat, almost Monty Python-esque feel, only it’s very American rather than British. I was giggling while reading this novel, so John (my husband) kept asking me what was so funny. I read him a few bits, and he agreed that the book sounded extremely quirky. Perhaps that is the connection to the Bizarro fiction, which, after reading this I am beginning to define. I would say that Cursed is unusual, as well as complex and layered.
Looking for a literary reference, I see a parallel between Nick and Gregor, the main character from The Metamorphosis (title links to recent review). Both characters are caught within some difficult life circumstances mostly beyond their control, yet remain reflective and sensitive almost to a fault. Another example of a connection is where The Metamorphosis has a sort of periodic angst; it has an emotional discord which can only truly be defined within the early 1900’s. Cursed too is periodic but has a contemporary feel. Reading Cursed was like reading a book by a friend whose experiences are based during the present day, and whose guilt, self doubt, abandonment issues, and alcohol abuse all bunched up into a story that could only be set recently.
I do think that the book could be paralleled and contrasted with The Metamorphosis more, but will leave that to the scholars. In summary I immensely enjoyed this creative, quirky book. It is thoughtful, original, disturbing, sensitive, and funny and rate it at 4 Stars. It was a needed humor break. I’m looking forward to reading more of Jeremy Shipp’s work, though gods know what he will come up with next! And the good news is that I have Vacation, his previous book to read as well.
For more information on the book, the author, as well as purchasing links please see Layers of Thought's preview for Cursed.
Updated and Extended Giveaway:
There is a current giveaway still going on for Jeremy Shipp’s Vacation, which we will be extending to May 30th. I am thinking at some point a few of you are going to kick yourself for not trying to win a copy of this book. Especially when Jeremy Shipp wins a prestigious award. So don’t miss out! You will be in direct contact with the author and have an opportunity to help spread the word about his work. Get your bottom dollar over here and enter!
Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.