I’ve been trying to read more fiction these days but it's really slow going because most of it is bad. Most of it has HUGE info dumps, endless backstories, and overly long character descriptions, and is entwined with mind-numbing identity politics that I don’t care about.
When I’m reading fiction I only ask for a few things 1) that there is something to like about the character(s) or that the author at least makes them interesting in some way. 2) that the story STARTS. What’s with all the prologues and forwards and introductions these days?!?!? I pick up a novella or a short story and half of it is an introduction. Come on, it’s a short story let’s just get started. I don’t need instruction from someone talking about how amazing this author’s brain is and how they are the best thing since sliced bread. I picked up the book, isn’t that enough? I don’t believe what people tell me half of the time so this nonsense is pointless. And prologues, just stop it. 99% of the time we don’t need them. They are just a lazy way of trying to assure a reader that something interesting will eventually happen if they can only get past the boring beginning.
Anywho….let’s talk about this book….
What I liked about White Fuzz by William Pauley III is that the story started RIGHT AWAY. It was interesting. Why is this guy getting this phone call? What is white fuzz? Who is this girl? It was strange but not so strange that it felt alienating.
As for the characters I liked Lynda because she was interesting. She was mentally unstable but also sympathetic. I appreciated that although she had trauma from past boyfriends and her father (or at least said she did) the story wasn’t all about her suffering and she was interesting despite that. Too many authors rely on just giving their characters a traumatic past and hope that’s enough to make them interesting. It’s not. It makes them whiny and boring and a victim. I feel like even if Lynda didn’t have trauma or mental illness she would still be quirky and interesting but in a less intense, self-destructive way. Plus, she likes Buffalo ‘66, so she’s cool in my book.
While the main character Franklin overthinks things WAY too much, he’s also somewhat sympathetic. Honestly, because of all the screams about “toxic masculinity” and how evil males are and rape culture these days, his inner struggle between wanting to be a good guy and just being a male seems plausible, and he’s a bit of a mess because of it. Though Franklin would be cooler if he stopped with the endless worry and inner dialogue. But still, you kinda feel for the guy when he gets kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place with Lynda. Though I think if he had called the paramedics after she slashed open her arms with his razor and had her put on a 72-hour hold for evaluation, he would have gotten some sleep. We’ll never know.
I’m not a huge bizarro reader because most of the time they are a headache to get through, but this felt more like strange fiction and was somewhat grounded in reality.
One of the main reasons I decided to give this a try was that I really liked the cover art. Then I got the paperback and that cover was even cooler. So many books have horrible art these days that looks like shit on a bookshelf. So good cover art is a huge plus.