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Friday, February 9, 2024

Book review: A Sick Gray Laugh by Nicole Cushing

 


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicole Cushing is the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of Mr. Suicide and a two-time nominee for the Shirley Jackson Award. Various reviewers have described her work as “brutal”, “cerebral”, “transgressive”, "wickedly funny", “taboo”, “groundbreaking” and “mind-bending”. She lives in Indiana.

Published: August 27, 2019 by Word Horde Length: 290 pages Formats: ebook, paperback


That was quite a journey.

It took me a few weeks to finish the book, and while it's not perfect, it's one of the most unique and fascinating books I've ever read.

Sick Gray Laugh blends speculative history, memoir, and nihilistic absurdity with meta narration and reflections on human nature, mental health, and identity. It also revels in gallows humor, remaining playful in its otherwise bleak take on human existence.

The narrative delves into the history of Naumptonn, Indiana while simultaneously exploring the origin of "the overwhelming Grayness that's slathered over everything like a thick coat of snot."

Grayness is a soul-crushing disease and a state of being that affects many small towns and people. The book's narrator prefers to keep her life colorful—a daunting task.

And the narrator is an interesting individual, indeed. Noelle Cashman got mentally more stable and could no longer write ultra-dark and depressive stories. Together with readers, she's looking for an idea for the story. She patronizes readers with wit and charm and promises all questions will be eventually answered.  

It's a fascinating book with almost no empty calories. Dense and often philosophical and descriptive, it goes meta, following the ramblings of a troubled mind. Yet, it contains moments of sheer brilliance. If you appreciate challenging books with humor that is existentially dark, check this one out!

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