Pop Goes the World: Cosmo by Spencer Gordon

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.

CosmoBased 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.

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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.

Blog: Canada Post tried to kill Mr. Fins

This week has already been the best week when it comes to book things and it’s only Tuesday.  Not only did I win a signed copy of this year’s Canada Reads winner February from House of Anansi (a really great reason to follow your favourite publishers on Facebook or Twitter!), today I found a fish in my mailbox! And not just any fish. A celebrity fish. My very own Mr. Fins.

Mr. Fins appears in the office satire I just finished called Pulpy and Midge and happens to be a highlight of it’s cartoon-y cover (hence the celebrity part). Author Jessica Westhead, in a floating cloud of friendly awesomeness, sent him to me with a little bookmark + note (!) forever inducting herself into the exclusive “Imaginary BFFs” corner of my brain.

But Mr. Fins did not experience his postal journey unscathed. Poor bugger got his eye gauged out by an unnamed force.

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If you’ve read the book you’ll understand how ironically perfect this accident is. Pulpy and Midge is so cringe worthy and adorkable that an incident like this would happen and perfectly encapsulates the love-and-pitiable characters in her novel. Just as life likes to imitate art, the postal service imitates the emotional distress bestowed upon the characters in the form of a battered plastic cycloped fish.

or something…okay, maybe I’m reaching a little bit.

Anyways, if you haven’t read the book, it’s a wry and offbeat story that hits the everyday nail on it’s weird little head. I enjoyed it very much.  THANK YOU JW for the fun tuesday treat! A book cover manifesting itself into a real thing delivered to my doorstep! It’s a book stylist’s dream.

Blog: Cover Wars: Short Story Edition.

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Look what came in my mailbox today! Cosmo by Spencer Gordon, a short story collection I am extremely excited to dig in to. But look! Familiar? I am hugely reminded of the cover for Jessica Westhead’s short stories And Also Sharks (and that isn’t a bad thing because I adored it). The quirky faces, strategically cut and pasted. Though Sharks had perfect paper doll bodies to emphasize their sad little heads, Cosmo has some kind of Kaleidoscope collage going on and it gives me high hopes. If my past review is anything to go by, I have a very positive association with this kind of cover design (ie: strange). Who wouldn’t want more covers like this? I laugh every time I look at them. Lord knows it’s better than another shirtless long-haired cowboy/astronaut/fireman/Fabio + damsel combo. Amirite? Give me the weird ones, ‘cuz I know they’ve got personality.

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