Ethan S. Edgerly
Outskirts Press (2013)
Reviewed by Taylor Whalen for Reader Views (12/13)
Ethan S. Edgerly's book "Imaginary Flatulence" is a book about nothing and everything; it is a book about nobody and thus everybody.
I like Edgerly's writing style, how it doesn't stay the same throughout the book. It gives the different characters more depth and dynamic qualities, allowing them to have more of a voice in what would otherwise be a flat character. However, I was a bit disappointed by this book, which is a shame because I love the idea behind it. I love the idea of rooting for ‘the nobody,’ of being able to relate to a real character that has nothing particularly interesting about him. But the characters ended up just sounding whiny or not interesting or jerks that I didn't want to get to know, which is a shame. I think this might have been due to the approach of the book, where it's a series of interviews with these characters and we slowly uncover truths about them. However, we never start from one place and end another. It's difficult to follow and keep track of all the different characters' development as well as the plot twists and turns towards the end.
I'm torn because there are many aspects of the book that I enjoyed, but these same aspects are the things that annoyed me about the book as well. I like the idea of storytelling to uncover a character. However, it also left me feeling disinterested with what the characters had to say, almost as if once they started talking I would sigh and wonder, what silly meaningless thing is he going to complain about next. Maybe because this book is so realistic in its mundaneness, it almost makes it too difficult to relate to. The same goes for the structure of the book. I like how the characters in the interviews direct the story, and it seems like the narrator (the interviewer) can't seem to control them. I found this very realistic, but somehow didn't let the book flow as well as I wanted, didn't allow me to concentrate enough on one storyline.
Overall an interesting artistic approach and an interesting way to get to know a character in a book. Again, I like the idea of making a story about nobody, as most of us are nobodies and thus every-bodies. However, it was exasperating at times and difficult to follow at others. I applaud Ethan S. Edgerly's work "Imaginary Flatulence" in that it challenges the reader as well as the author's typical format for understanding and uncovering a book.