Book Review: Tabloid Nation by John Schasny

by Eliza GREEN

John Schasny’s Tabloid Nation is a peculiar and sometimes very funny little novella that’s probably best read in a single sitting — it’s just the right size for beach reading or a regional train journey — but because I frequently lost patience with the narrator, I instead read it in ten and fifteen minute installments over the course of a few months. Schasny’s narrator finds love and loss while travelling in caravan of what the back-cover-blurb describes as “pop culture gypsies and excitement-weirdness junkies.” The ensemble surrounding the narrator includes, among others, bikers, cronies, web-obsessed Recreational Vehicle residents, an amorous interest with a preternatural sense of smell, and a nymphomaniac named Candy. There’s a little sex, a near-castration, and enough action that I kept coming back for more despite being surprisingly put off by passages of stream-of-consciousness ‘poetic prose’ and repeated use of the words like “jiggy,” and “functifiction” — stylistic mannerisms which, to paraphrase one of Schasny’s characters, like masturbation, if you’re not into it, can feel too much like work. Misgivings aside, I can guarantee that you’ve never read anything quite like Tabloid Nation, and it might be worth your while for that reason alone. Tepidly recommended.

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