What happens when a book is described as “jet skiing over Niagara Falls while Leonard Cohen whispers in your ear?” I GUESS IT MEANS that you may live or you may die, but it will be AN EXPERIENCE like no other. That is Cosmo by Spencer Gordon.
Based on the scrapbook kaleidoscope cover (where I’m pretty sure I found parts of Justin Beiber’s face…?), I was expecting something unapologetically cray, but I was surprised to find a literary salad bar of mixed emotions and depth, from the quirky to the profound to the earnest.
Cosmo is heavily inspired by pop culture. Revolving around contemporary celebrities – both famous and infamous – and popular subjects like WWE and The Miss Universe pageant. So much, in fact, that I found myself on Google after each story to verify his facts. Like, “Did Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock date?” (I would have been 7 at the time) or “Pierre Lebrun murder” or “Subway Cafe.” I especially enjoyed the way Gordon reserves his A-ha moments until the absolute end. The first two stories, Operation Smile and Jobbers, being perfect examples of this. A Beauty Pageant contestant and a well-meaning older sister, respectively, illuminate the heart of their stories only in the final paragraph, putting the last 10ish pages into revealing perspective.
If you still weren’t sure just how culturally inspired Gordon was, his next story won’t leave a spacebar of a doubt. Frankie+Hilary+Romeo+Abigail+Helen: An Intermission reads like The 6 Degrees of wiki-Seperation. Not entirely void of personal opinion, but eloquently written, it is the literary version of a lengthy, meandering internet browse. HOW do you get from Malcolm In The Middle to Helen Keller? Spencer Gordon shows you how! ….You don’t even know how many times I’ve gone from looking up black bean enchilada recipes only to find myself on the Wikipedia page for sloths 2 hours later. What am I supposed to do with that kind of information? WELL Gordon takes that information and turns it into a something more. Like what Chef Bobby Flay might do with a can of tuna. And not only that, he does so with a skillful thoughtfulness that sweeps in (again) in the last few sentences.
Cosmo is a very interesting collection of stories. I was surprised and pleased at the umbrella of content that Gordon captured. His stories were so vastly different, though they all had very topical subject matter. I should say that I had to be in a particular mood to read these stories though. Sometimes I ate them up, other times it took a few tries to get into Gordon’s wordy style. Either way, I’m happy I did. A single mother using the internet to snoop on her son. Leonard Coen waxing poetic on Subway restaurants. Miley Cyrus mania. Matthew freakin’ McConaughey naked in the desert. Spencer Gordon goes places I didn’t know a writer outside of TMZ could go.