It’s weird, it’s magical, it’s deep, and it’s totally unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s one odd bird.
What makes it so unique? There are only a couple of living characters. It reads more like a screenplay than a traditional novel, and history mixes with the paranormal in a way that boggles the mind. And yet, it’s one of the most powerful works of fiction I’ve ever read. With lofty themes like self-awareness being the key to emotional growth, and grief being a truly universal emotion, the book sweeps the reader into the current of a metaphorical underground river that he never knew existed.
In the case of Lincoln in the Bardo, I can’t imagine a more effective, more sympathetic way to tell the story, so it’s perfectly natural for it to be so unusual.
The biggest secret that no one in publishing will tell you? Weird works. Unique sells. But only if the unusual character of a book is authentic. It can’t be forced, or contrived, or strange for the sake of strange. If a book is that rare combination of odd and genius, it’s likely that it will find its way into our hearts. Some of our most beloved books are odd. Dr. Seuss’ illustrations, the dialect in The Color Purple, the timeline of the Outlander series.
Don’t be afraid of unusual books. Whether the structure is different, or the dialogue requires you to hear language in a different way, or the illustrations force your mind to travel to places you never imagined before you opened the book, take a chance on that odd book. It might just be the book that speaks directly to your heart.
What are some of your favorite odd reads? Let us know in the comments.