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The Beard Paperback – September 27, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Completely captivated me; all the various - and extremely strange - characters are surprisingly sympathetic. - Tony Cole for MobileRead.com

If Holden Caulfield rented a timeshare in Vegas, only to find out he double-booked with Hunter S. Thompson, and then they both sat down over a buffet of mind-altering drugs and wrote a book, I THINK it might be something like The Beard. BEHOLD THE POWER OF FACIAL HAIR! - Nathaniel Lambert, co-author of Sideshow PI: The Devil's Garden and It's OK To Be a Zombie

The story is so wild and unpredictable that the reader learns to let go early on in the book and just enjoy the scenery as the author takes them on a road trip through the world of bizarro. - William Pauley III, author of Doom Magnetic!

Sure to please any fan of weird fiction. - Grant Wamack for Spontaneous Combustion

I loved this book. I loved its feel, its pace, and its imagery. - Lucas Thorn for Lateral Obsessions

It messes with your perspective, sense of time and space, and makes you wonder if you really just read that sentence. - Jim Gavin, author of Hard Boiled Vampire Killers

It's like eating a creativity sandwich. - Daniel Clausen, author of The Lexical Funk
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Atlatl Press (September 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615326331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615326337
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,998,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Warning: One or two spoilers in the mix.

An elephant wind. That's what this book is. You probably don't know what that means. If you try to picture it your mind, you might get some idea of what the book is. You'll definitely know what that means after you read the book and then you can decide whether that statement is accurate or not--but for now, perhaps it's sufficient to say that the book is an elephant wind. I took up the book in the midst of doing some very difficult school research and came away with renewed optimism in life, the universe, and everything.

What's the book about? It's about growing up and growing old; it's about writing a book and abandoning it; it's about listening to records alone in your room at a time when you wish that everything would just fade into the background; it's about randomness and large creatures that look like whales but have human butts so that when they come out of the water, they moon you. It's about the comfort of having a beard, but also about tripped out firemen who are on something and so who jump into fires.

It's "absurdist" fiction, or "bizzarro" fiction, certainly. But in another sense, I think this book is also slacker fiction. When I opened up the book, man oh man, I was in need of some slacker fiction in my life. Fiction that kind of wanders around, tries to befriend you, then falls asleep on your couch for a week. That may sound bad, and in some parts of the book, I admit it's easy to get lost--but I thought it was comfortable to read; maybe I was just in the right mood. In other ways it's like eating a creativity sandwich. I came up with like three ideas for stories while reading this book. At one point in the book, one of the characters says, if you chase something then it only gets further away. One of the virtues of this book is that it won't try to hard to get you to like it--it just is what it is, and for me it's fairly easy to befriend a piece of writing that comfortable with itself.
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Format: Paperback
Andersen Prunty has a style I really like, and I'm not afraid to admit that. While so far I've only read one of his other books, Zerostrata, I feel I can comfortably order the rest of his collection without fear. Especially after reading The Beard.

Plotwise, it's a funky one. Basically, a young boy witnesses his grandfather being abducted by a herd of elephants in a scene I really really liked. I, too, could smell the elephants and I will never look at a storm in quite the same way again. He grows up with aspirations of being a writer, however his single manuscript is rejected so he decides instead to grow a beard. Returning home, he is confronted with his mother's death and the revelations his father may not be his father but an imposter (imposters are a common theme in this novel), who convinces him he must go to the mystical island of the Nefarions to return a sacred flame his grandfather had stolen from them in hope that might appease them and thus earn the lifting of the family curse. The trip is, quite literally, a trip, and it was dealt out with masterful prose in a quiet and near-dreamlike manner which suited the book's use of naps and sleep as a central theme.

Along his travels, our hero journeys through some strange towns, cities and states. He is witness to some truly interesting moments while being pursued by his own imposter and two other mutants from the island of the Nefarions. Accompanied only by the man he thought was his father who may not be but could be his father or an imposter of his father (just go with it), and at one stage a nice dwindling team of bodyguards, he discovers not just resolution to the family curse, but a resolution of the spirit which may allow him to live his life as he is comfortable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Beard by Andersen Prunty is an excellent introduction to the bizzaro genre. The story follows a dream logic and is surreal at times. It is never difficult for the sake of being difficult or weird for the sake of weirdness. The book has a fascinating internal logic that leads the reader toward the goal of finding brilliance. Sprinkled along the way the author drops gems of sparkling insight.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've always liked the sort of stories where people go an a journey as part of some sort of quest. Andersen Prunty's The Beard is a bizarro version of one of these quest novels. It's not an epic fantasy sort of quest; it's the sort where a couple of people travel through an altered version of America, and you get the sense that there's some sort of underlying allegory. In some ways, It reminded me of Neil Gaiman's American Gods or some L. Frank Baum's later Oz books.

The Beard is the story of David Glum, whose grandfather was kidnapped by a heard of elephants when David was seven. As an adult, David is a failed writer who returns to his parents' home to try and grow a beard, but then his mother seemingly dies, and David and his father set off on a quest to return the Brilliance, which had previously been stolen by the kidnapped grandfather, to a group of otherworldly people called the Nefarions.

Once the story got going and the adventures started, it was a great read. Unfortunately, the opening chapters where David is trying to sell his book, and subsequently moping around his parents' house, are kind of boring. If it wasn't for those, I would probably give this book five stars, as it is, it's still worthy of four.
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