Teeny Tiny Stories From the Marinated Jungle
Author, Lee Widener
By Julie Carpenter
Friend of the Chickens, Lee Widener, has published another book! And, as you might suspect, it’s weird. Bizarro, even. If you’ve never read Bizarro literature before, your brain is in for a treat. Besides, your synapses were probably due for rewiring anyway.
Bizarro literature is much like nonsense. It exists to defy expectations and break your mind out of any boxes where you might comfortably store your imagination. In a word, it’s a trip. If you’ve never heard of it before, read Widener’s guest post, What is Bizarro Literature and Am I Weird Enough to Read It.
This time, Widener has produced a book of very short stories, called Teeny Tiny Stories from the Marinated Jungle, each petite tale accompanied by its own work of art. These fables are short little vacations from reality. (Has there ever been a time when any of us were more in need of that?) The illustrations are delightfully uncanny representations of the silly animal protagonists of each story, quite apropos to the genre. The images do a good job of representing the madness within this little tome.
Each of these animal fables is true to the utter nonsense that is Bizarro literature; therefore, each ending manages to neatly miss the point, sometimes by an inch, sometimes by a mile, but miss it they do and it’s mightily satisfying. Every protagonist manages to learn almost exactly nothing. From a snake that’s having a bad day to an elephant who acquires a super-power, our protagonists are safe from the consequences of learning anything about themselves or the world they inhabit.
Widener’s taking a bit of a risk here, because the fable is a well-known genre. It would be easy to fall into the trap of fitting the mold, and in a few of these stories, I held my breath because it seemed an actual lesson might appear in the offing. But the author is always there to pull the rug of known reality and every law of consequence out from under our feet and at the last minute we’re always saved! By the end, the author has defied reality again and again, leaving readers sighing with relief, as empty-headed as “The Squirrel Who Knew Nothing.”
Life is chaos…and these stories note that with great delight. If you love nonsense or Bizarro literature, we’ve reviewed a couple more of Lee’s books, David Bowie Is Trying to Kill Me and Give of yourself: A Bizarro Christmas Tale. Enjoy!
Julie Carpenter is the creator of the Sacred Chickens website and author of Things Get Weird in Whistlestop, a collection of short stories . She is dedicated to telling stories and making sure that indie writers and publishers have a way to be heard. She uses narrative, her own and others’, to help interpret the world. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Memphis, with an emphasis in Composition Theory. She wants to bend reality one story at a time. Julie’s work has appeared in Fiction on the Web and has appeared in The New Guard. She is currently working on a novel.