For Fans of The Twilight Zone and Gary Val Tenuta: Review of Mike Russell’s Nothing Is Strange



Part Twilight Zonesque, comic horror in the style of Gary Val Tenuta’s The Good Librarian, dystopian similar to Susanne Valenti’s Chained, and dark humor, Nothing is Strange could be classified as speculative fiction. Twenty stories comprise the short volume. It is a quick entertaining read. I read it in one day. There is an overall message or theme. However, Nothing is Strange is the kind of book that can be read as a way to unwind or purely for entertainment. Its theme, which I took to be know thy self . . . and others consequently, resonated as I am also reading Author J.M. Coetzee and Psychotherapist Arabella Kurtz’s The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy.

In a nod to other reviews that I have seen, the stories do not always conform to the conventional short story format. If you pick up the book and simply start reading, or better yet, think you know what to expect, the first story will be disconcerting. Presuming that you can stop reading, do not. I could not. It was like the Lays potato chip commercial and its playful goading—you can’t read just one story.

A partial listing of the stories:

  • The Diaries of Sun City and The Living Crown reminded me of Chained and other dystopian novels;
  • Dunce, for the same reason Station Eleven;
  • The Meeting and Mask Man have analytic and logical game qualities found in some college board entrance exams (LSAT and GRE);
  • Lesley Visits the Barbers brought back to mind a place where I used to get haircuts (snip, drink some wine, and for more adventurous patrons, other activities);
  • Barry and the Triplets I could identify with after eating pizza at Lupi’s Pizza in Chattanooga, TN (pizza was excellent, the noise . . . well, deafening—the comparative silence on the street afterwards was soothing);
  • Harry’s Quest similar to the first story, Cream Tea has the hallmarks of being part of a Big Bang episode; and
  • Three stories (The Diaries of Sun City, Insensible Susan, and The Shining Flower) illustrate points in The Good Story.

Saluting the quirkiness in everyone, I give Nothing Is Strange 5 stars!

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.