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The Beard Paperback – September 27, 2009
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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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The introduction is also the problem I have with THE BEARD. Prunty introduces us to a magical world with magical words. It is beautifully written and you feel you're being pulled into a contemporary fantasy world. We are introduced to the protagonist, David Glum and his grandfather watching the grass grow during an Ohio afternoon. The grandfather, a former anthropologist, tells a wonderful and fantastic tale of elephant winds, a race of Nefarions, and of their home island somewhere in the Malefic Ocean. His grandfather soon disappears and with him goes the literary magic.
THE BEARD quickly descends into what is quite possibly bizarro fiction's closest answer to true absurdist fiction. As I read it, I was hoping the "the beard" would follow a similar pattern as Nikolai Gogol's THE NOSE. Instead the beard never becomes a character in this work of existentialist philosophy reminiscent of a Philip K. Dick novel, except set in the present. Unfortunately, Prunty is neither Gogol or Dick. The dialogue can be a bit too mundane at times, descriptions can be lacking, and the story isn't refined enough to make up for these things.
The ending was a bit too saccharine for my taste. It almost has a Hollywood feel to it. Leaving for room for sequels?
Don't get me wrong, THE BEARD is an enjoyable book, However it strives to be more than it is and fails in that department. It could have been a magical contemporary fantasy, it could have been humorous post-modern absurdism, or it could have been a philosophical treatise on the nature of being. Instead it becomes a travel journal in a surrealistic world.
Still, it's fun to read. Prunty doesn't let up in this travel adventure. It certainly is the most enjoyable piece of bizarro fiction I have read, but it still has the hallmarks of bizarro fiction that keep it from becoming more. I would gladly recommend this book to others who are looking for something fun and weird.
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.
The lack of development or themes gave it a sophomoric feeling, almost as if I was reading something written by somebody who was just getting his feet under him as an author. The few "insights" were blindingly obvious - materialism bad, time to dream good. The ending was wrapped up in a very happy and comfortable way.
As the story progressed, I found myself less and less engaged. Finally I had to force myself to finish it. I would be interested in seeing what this author would come up with in a few years if he pushed himself to work in a less obvious vein.