Get ready to go on a wild ride through the streets of Chelsea in New York City in “The Weirdness,” a debut novel by Jeremy P. Bushnell. Join Billy Ridgeway, a 30-ish, regular guy whose inadequate life consists of working at a Greek deli, smoking weed and writing short stories, until a strange apparition appears in his living room, and he continues to meet one bizarre character after another.
The central theme of the novel is Billy’s interactions with Lucifer and his task to steal the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium from the most powerful warlock in the Northeast in exchange for the publication of his book along with a five figure advance. This Neko is something found in many Chinese restaurants, but the one that he’s looking for has the potential to send the entire world up in smoke.
Each chapter begins with a list of main topics or weird occurrences found throughout the chapter, such as looking homeless, what happens to people with face tattoos and the concept of a light switch. Through his adventures Billy explores weird phenomena based on his curious nature.
The reader is introduced to a cast of characters, such as Hindu Anil, big Swede Jorgen, and wacky filmmaker, Denver. Each plays a vital role in the crazy events that ensue, involving the devil, also known as Lucifer Morningstar, and a variety of New York City witches and warlocks.
This modern tale, much different from other forms of fantasy fiction in its attention to modern technology, like Twitter and Google Alerts, and its acid-trip characteristics, will undoubtedly make you laugh and feel better about your own life in a “Honey Boo Boo” sort of way.
Bushnell’s unapologetic writing makes use of colloquial, conversational language. For example, Billy says, “I go into the store to hit the ATM, and I see these bananas sitting there, and I just stand there for a second, in the store, looking at them, and I’m thinking about, like, Costa Rica or Ecuador … ”
The author manages to create an easy-to-read look about how one average guy’s life can be so easily turned around by temptations from the devil. This is something anyone can relate to on a symbolic level; however, in this case Billy meets him in the true sense of the word, this “adversarial manifestation,” which exists in his world.
The novel is a “weird” back and forth between what is morally right in Billy’s brain, that making deals with the devil is naturally wrong and what he feels he must do.
A major plot twist will throw the reader for a loop, completely altering the direction the book had been taking for the majority of the story. By the time you turn the last page, you will feel yourself wondering if it was all just a dream.
The novel is truly a “weird” read, though unforgettable, as its insane dynamic between the supernatural and the mortal world is told around a seemingly ordinary, familiar type of guy given an impossible task by an untrustworthy and inherently evil figure. An open-minded, modern reader will fully appreciate this bizarre and unusual work of fiction, the author’s first novel. “The Weirdness” hits bookstores March 4.