This was a wonderfully surreal collection of short stories and comics in various styles. All of the stories revolve around relationships, though not all are of the romantic kind. Audrey Niffenegger is the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I read several years ago and really enjoyed. After reading the descriptions of her other books, and how much I enjoyed this one, I need to read those, too!
Bizarre Romance is hard to review partly because it is so weird. There are thirteen stories here – 7 comics and 6 short prose stories. Even the prose stories have illustrations scattered throughout them, mostly in slightly sketch-like style which lends itself well to the surreal nature of the subjects. I think my favorite is the guy who makes his fiance agree to leave him in the house alone, every Thursday night from 6pm to 8pm, before he’ll marry her. She’s okay with this at first, but eventually hires private investigators to find out what he’s doing on Thursday nights because she can’t stand not knowing. I won’t spoil the surprise, but I loved it. I also enjoyed “The Composite Boyfriend” which is written about a woman’s exes as if they were all the same person.
“I met him at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where he worked as a guard. I met him in a class I was taking. I met him at a school where we both taught. I met him at a party; we smiled at each other across a crowded room. We were introduced to each other by our mutual friend Paula, an Austrian immigrant who had escaped from the Nazis as a young girl.”
This is a really neat, beautiful little collection that explores different relationships, from father-daughter, to spouses, to exes, to female friendships. It’s a quick read, and I really enjoyed it.
From the cover of Bizarre Romance:
Once upon a time, a writer and an artist got married. “Let’s collaborate,” said the writer. “Ugh, no thanks, darling,” said the artist. But lo and behold, they collaborated and here is the result: thirteen stories about oddballs in love, infestations of angels, nefarious fairies, cats, spies, monsters, more cats, bibliophiles who just want a little extra reading time, magic mirrors, artists’ models who nap on the job, imperfect boyfriends, and daughters who are perhaps a little too dutiful.