The image above was artificially generated by me and does not represent the book. I remain unaware of cover art at the time of this post.
Some of us focused on home and hearth during lockdown. Some of us renovated our careers. Creative endeavors had an opportunity to flourish. Nicole Cushing has presented us with a commentary instead, enveloping COVID-19, conspiracy theories, modern politics, mental health and the bizarre, wrapped in a cover with a bar code and an ISBN, neatly posing as a novel.
In the height of COVID lockdown in the second quarter of 2020, a family emergency calls the heroine back to her parents’ home. Our protagonist bears the self-imposed title of antisocial outcast as she exists on the periphery of normal.
They say to pour yourself into your work as a writer. The familiarity of concepts and turns of thought trapped in those opening pages had me squirm with an uncomfortable recognition, as I saw parts of myself reflected in the picture of the main character as she emerged. The stream – no, crashing, whitewater-rapids-of-consciousness tale follows her eastward to its source.
Family trees branch in unexpected areas, a visit to a cryptid convention is fraught with rotors overhead. One begins to wonder if familial fruits will simply be left to dangle and rot with urgency.
I should care what the main character’s name is. My fingers slip over the text searching for where I thought it was, when my eyes first rolled across, tried to make a mental note to later return. Her tale was laid down, I picked it up and now it’s inside of me. That’s enough. My breath reeks of stale coffee, this I know.
In classic Cushing fashion this book is not meant to be devoured in episodic doses, but one maniacal sitting, whose prose clamps the reader to their chair until the final page is turned.
9.5/10 tentacles writhe in madness to the skies.
The last still searches this copy for a name I should have highlighted but now doubt its existence, and my effectiveness as a reader. “The memorable ones should leave you unsettled, unsure,” I tell myself.
I hope to announce an interview with Nicole Cushing soon.