Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kumquat, by Jeff Strand

 There are not many authors that I like enough that I would read a romantic comedy.

 Jeff Strand is one of the rare breed that I would follow anywhere, though.

 So when I found out that his latest, KUMQUAT, is, at heart, a romantic comedy, I decided that he'd built up enough goodwill with me that I could suck it up, take one for the team, and give it a shot....
 Jeff Strand is best-known as the author of darkly comedic Horror novels/novellas/short stories such as I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS, DEAD CLOWN BARBECUE, WOLF HUNT, KUTTER, and literally tons and tons more. I've never read a thing he's written that I didn't absolutely love, or at least like a whole, whole lot, so....bring on the romantic comedy. Worst case scenario: I'd hate it. But the silver lining would be that if anyone ever asked me if I had read a romantic comedy novel, I would now be able to answer "Yes. Yes, I have."

 So, having read KUMQUAT, I can now say that not only have I read a romantic comedy novel, I have also read one and loved it.

 KUMQUAT is the story of Todd Bryan and Amy Husk, an odd couple if there ever was one. They meet at an attendance-challenged film festival, strike up a conversation, and decide to take a spur-of-the-moment cross-country road trip together to eat at a Hot-Dog restaurant that they saw on TV. Todd is an introverted semi-hypochondriac, and Amy, afflicted by a Brain Aneurysm, could potentially die at any moment. This is not your typical romantic comedy couple, but, guided by the fertile imagination of Jeff Strand, they come to life, fall in love, and engage in the road-trip from hell, complete with a hook-handed hitchhiker, destructive juvenile delinquents, hostile elderly racists, and a Gummi Tractor. (That alone should be enough to make you want to pick up a copy.)

 I had a great time watching Todd and Amy's relationship grow....Reading this book, and putting it into context with Jeff Strand's previous eclectic output, has made me realize that this man is the proverbial "Jack-of-all-trades"...There is nothing that he can't write. And, once again, Strand has succeeded in making me laugh out loud while reading one of his books. Numerous times, in fact, which is a rare thing for me. Everyone has laughed at movies and TV shows, but, come on, be honest...How often do you get a belly-laugh from the printed word? Probably not often, which means it's a tough thing to do...but Strand accomplishes it effortlessly.

 I've been a fan of Jeff Strand's Horror/Comedy work for years, but KUMQUAT could be a breakthrough novel for him, exposing him to a whole new audience. I'm going to buy a copy of this book for my wife, who will probably think I'm playing some terrible trick on her, at first. I have no doubt that she'll love it as much as I did. Highly recommended stuff....funny, touching, and beautifully written.

 The publisher provided a review copy.