Apr 8, 2012

The Last Hiccup - The First Rave

Before I begin a post of unabashed enthusiasm on Christopher Meades' weirdly wonderful new novel The Last Hiccup, a note of caution:

Through careful research and self-imposed paranoid fear-mongering, I have determined that Chris, having never met him physically, is undoubtedly one of the following:
  • my doppelganger;
  • my long-lost twin, the one I thought I devoured in utero;
  • a pod person bent on destroying me.
Why this belief, Corey, oh master of hyperbole? Take a look, and you tell me I'm freaking out over nothing:

Corey Redekop - Christopher Meades doppelganger?Christopher Meades - Corey Redekop doppelganger?

All together now;
Meet Corey, who's done most everything,
From practice law to plane jumping.
But Chris has only stayed the course,
He's never even seen a horse.
What a crazy pair!
'Cuz they're authors,
Identical authors and you'll find,
They dress alike, they walk alike,
At times they even write alike:
You can lose your mind,
When authors are two of a kind.

Spooky, no? Maybe it's a coincidence, but I'm afraid to go to sleep at night. Should we meet I have no doubt the universe will cease to exist, or at least suffer a splitting headache.

On the plus side, should I ever die, we have a spare.

The Last Hiccup
But I come here to praise Chris, not to fear him. I was a fan of his debut novel The Three Fates of Henrik Nordmark, an unceasingly silly chase novel that gave me no end of pleasure. So when approached, I gladly agreed to blurb his novel (a professional first!), for his sophomore effort The Last Hiccup is everything I look for in a novel; funny, weird, vaguely historical, barely linear, ambiguous, and saturated with synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. Having suffered from a lengthy bout of the devil's esophageal convulsions myself (seven days, no fooling), perhaps I'm inclined to sympathize with Vladimir, the young Russian boy who starts hiccuping at age eight and continues to do so for decades.

If the novel were simply that, twenty-plus years of hiccuping, I think I'd have tired of it. Meades, however, takes the Kurt Vonnegut route of torturing the protagonist, placing his hero in early 20th century Russia and submitting him to horrendous ordeal after horrendous ordeal. In short order, Vladimir, a strangely self-possessed little boy, is abandoned by his mother, experimented on by a mad doctor, and sent to live in the mountains with a strange and silent monk. And I haven't even begun to factor World War I into Meades' melange.

I do love a story that never takes me where I expect, and Hiccup certainly fills that bill. It's also extremely clever, dark, surreal, and unexpectedly poignant. I certainly hope Chris continues to push himself into the unexpected, for I sense there are fathoms of fantastic weirdness in him just aching to be discovered.

[NOTE] Should there ever be interest in mine and Chris' life story, perhaps as a Patty Duke-like family comedy with hijinks galore, I hereby submit the following unknown Canadian actor for consideration:

Corey Redekop + Chris Meades + Ryan Gosling = Box Office Dynamite!
'Cuz they're triplets!
Identical triplets, and you'll find,
They act alike, they brood alike,
Sometimes they're even subdued alike...

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