09 April 2020

Review || Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell


20 mind-expanding short stories.

Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique... all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy: Nothing Is Strange.





 



If there were ever a misnomer for a book title, it's Nothing is Strange because in these pages, everything is strange. Twenty short stories grace these pages and I'd love to tell you what they are about, but it's something that would need to be experienced for yourself. 

The author has a great voice throughout the stories. He's a plain-spoken narrator, with simple sentence structure and a decided lack of embellishments. His characters are simple as well. There's no distracting with complex character growth, or even character last names for that matter! Settings are generic as well; simply "the room" or "the house". These aren't the details that the author wants you to focus on. In this simplicity, there's complex thought as if someone were to wake up after spending a lifetime in the monasteries of Tibet. That's not to say the stories are religious because they aren't. Or maybe they are? 


My life appeared strange because it was one way and not another. Only if it had been every possibility at once would it not have appeared strange.  And that is what I am now; every possibility at once. And nothing is strange. 


While surreal and bizarre are words that have been used (according to the blurb), they almost seem too easy of an explanation. Reading Nothing is Strange is like looking at cubism paintings. Taken as a whole, the art makes complete sense, but if you look closely, it's just an odd mismatch of random parts. All of the stories invoke an emotional response... if you let them. All of them seem remarkably transcendent as if there were a million dimensions with a million of us and a million directions we could take and they were all happening at once. 

Nothing is Strange is everything strange and yet, not?