What’s the weirdest thing you’ve read lately?

For me, it is definitely The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers, Translated by John Brownjohn.

This book was very strange. It reminded me of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. Moers writes page after page of strange creatures, worlds, and circumstances that are only connected because Bluebear passes through them. And, like in Dahl’s book, I felt like the author was always hinting about a greater truth behind the story, as if The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear was more a gigantic allegory than a children’s book. I enjoyed the fantastic nature of it but I didn’t like the long lists of creatures that read more like crazy encyclopedic entries than an actual story with characters.

Some parts that I enjoyed, to give you the flavor of the story-
During the life with the Minipirates: “I must, however, admit to having been influenced by their richly embroidered tales and extravagant flights of fancy. They taught me that a good white lie is often considerably more exciting than the truth. Telling one is like dressing up reality in its Sunday best.” pg 19

During Bluebear’s time at the Nocturnal Academy: “One night, Knio and I had an argument about the nature of the universe. He had an appallingly crude conception of the physical world. “The earth is a bun floating in a bucket of water,” he asserted defiantly. “And what is the bucket standing on?” I demanded, trying to floor him. “The bucket stands on the back of the Great Cleaner who polishes the universe to all eternity,” Knio replied self-confidently. “This universe that she polishes so assiduously,” I said, “What in the world does that stand on?” “The universe doesn’t stand on anything, it lies,” Weeny put in. “The universe is as flat as a slice of sausage, you see.” pg 159

“From the Encyclopedia of Marvels, Life Forms and Other Phenomena of Zamonia and its Environs by Professor Abdullah Nightingale. Multidimensional Space: … Simply picture a train travelling through a black hole with a candle on its roof while you yourself, with a candle on your head, are standing on Mars and winding a clock precisely one yard in diameter, and while an owl, which also has a candle on its head and is travelling in the opposite direction to the train at the speed of light, is flying through a tunnel in the process of being swallowed by another black hole which likewise has a candle on its head (if you can imagine a black hole with a candle on its head, though for that you will require at least four brains).” pg 256

From his life in the Eternal Tornado: “One day (the Eternal tornado) swallowed an entire library, and since then a man named Gnothi C. Auton had been busy retrieving books from the sand, arranging them, cataloguing them, and lending them out.” pg 361 Wink, wink, my librarian friends, wink, nudge!

On being questioned by the Zamonium: “Next question, subject Grailsundian demonology: What are Nether Zamonian Diabolic Elves, and how many would fit on a pinhead?” pg 658 So clever.

If you enjoy reading The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, you may also enjoy almost anything written by Terry Pratchett or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Thanks for reading! -Heidi

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