Stories on the edge of familiarity

Baffled by Dinosaurs: When Books Ignore Your Expectations

Have you ever read a book by Stant Litore? Because, if you have, you’ll know that he writes this deep, emotional, and intellectual stuff. Stuff that gets at important questions in life. Moving, profound stuff.

You’ll also know that that stuff also involves things like zombies and shadowy aliens and monsters coming out of the chest of a man while he’s sleeping.

I’m always vaguely baffled by his work, how he puts together these elements that we wouldn’t normally think of being together, and how he makes them work. Really well. The first time I ran into his stuff was before he’d started publishing The Zombie Bible series. I found him on Twitter, and when I saw the phrase “Zombie Bible”, the only thought that was coherent in my mind was: “This is either going to be really terrible or really, really, good.” Obviously, it turned out to be the latter.

And now, Stant has a new book coming out, called The Running of the Tyrannosaurs. I haven’t read it yet. I’m still not quite sure how to process a) the title, b) the cover, and c) the synopsis. Especially when they’re all put together.

I just really don’t know what to think about it.

The stuff he’ll be dealing with in it is going to be awesome and thought-provoking, as usual. But. Tyrannosaurs.

Stant talked about exactly this kind of reaction in his blog post “When Worlds Collide: High-Brow, Low-Brow”, where people assume from the features of a story whether it will be good or bad. Whether it will have value or not.

And, really, if an author sticks even just generally to the categories we know as genres, then our judgement will be correct most of the time. It’s how heuristics work.

But what happens if an author doesn’t stick to the conventions?

In my case, I kind of just stare and try to say something, but then find I can’t really say anything because I’m just too confused. What’s going on? How is this supposed to work? Will I like this? But what about this? Did he really just put those two things together? I’m so confused…

If this was Stant’s first book, and I had discovered him around the time of the cover reveal, I would have had the same reaction to it as I did the Zombie Bible. Because… I just… what. What.

When I read it, I will most likely find it epic and amazing and everything but, for now, I’m mostly just baffled by dinosaurs.

So, thanks, Stant, for reminding me what it feels like when things come out of really far left field. I’m really not sure what to do with myself now.

That’s it. That’s all the words I have. There’s no real conclusion. The only thing I can think of to end with is this (click to enlarge):

calvin-and-hobbes-high-art-low-art

 

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One Response to Baffled by Dinosaurs: When Books Ignore Your Expectations

  1. This is fantastic commentary, Thea. You put into words much of what I experienced in my discovery of Stant’s work. I no longer question that I’ll enjoy something he writes. But that doesn’t lessen the delight of the unexpected each time he releases something new!

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