The best books for your surreal, bizarro, funny fiction fix

Who am I?

I'm a writer of humorous fiction living in Austin, Texas. I enjoy writing novels about unusual friendships and the healing power that comes when people just shut up and listen to each other. Many of my stories have the odd-couple dynamic on full display and I love to explore what would happen if people with very different backgrounds and opinions are forced to deal with each other. I do have a couple of novels that wouldn’t seem to be humorous on the surface, but there is an element of humor or comedy that runs through all of my work. My next novel, The Codger and the Sparrow, will be published by TCU Press in 2024.

I wrote...

To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel

By Scott Semegran,

Book cover of To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel

What is my book about?

This novel is a story of humorous literary fiction about five under-appreciated bureaucrats who forge an unlikely bond of love and respect while trying to win a pot of cash from the government that will change their lives forever. The lowly government workers seem to be stuck in a mind-numbing routine. But when one of them discovers a bug in the mainframe system that could save the State of Texas millions of dollars, this crew of unusual friends is elevated to stardom by the governor. A snooping reporter unearths the randomness of the coworkers’ discovery and reveals the governor’s darkest secret to the world. A satirical look at the machinations of government and the healing power of friendship between unlikely cohorts.

The books I picked & why

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Valleyesque: Stories

By Fernando A. Flores,

Book cover of Valleyesque: Stories

Why this book?

These stories are all surreal, trippy, and many are quite funny. Sort of a mashup of Márquez, Burroughs, and Bukowski, trying to pin down Flores’ actual style is difficult as it is wholly unique: the ultimate compliment for a writer. One story is about a couple who make a sculpture of a baby using their ear wax while the male partner is a writer who also is paid to be a life coach to other writers of lesser talent. Another story is about two men who are neighbors, one of which owns an extraterrestrial shape-shifting cloth, the other is a philosophizing writer prone to drink too much. This collection of short stories is top-notch as well as bizarre and humorous.

Everything Is Totally Fine

By Zac Smith,

Book cover of Everything Is Totally Fine

Why this book?

Ranging from very short to very bizarre, these stories are out there. One story is about a melancholy octopus who travels to the White House. Other stories are about ants, mice, birds, dogs, sharks, and whales doing mundane things or experiencing existential crises. Weird, surreal, and whacky, Zac Smith is on a mission to have fun with his stories. This book may not be for everyone. But, if it does tickle your fancy, then you’ll be glad you immersed yourself in Zac Smith’s unique mind.

Delivering Virtue: A Dark Comedy Adventure of the West

By Brian Kindall,

Book cover of Delivering Virtue: A Dark Comedy Adventure of the West

Why this book?

This novel of literary fiction is a ribald and adventurous mixture of humor, magical realism, Old West historical fact, and dream-like self-reflection. Main character Didier Rain, who is a drunken yet poetic lout, is hired to deliver a baby named Virtue to a Mormon prophet, who has been chosen as his future bride. (!!!) He is accompanied by a band of talking animals. Virtue miraculously grows into a young woman during the trip. It’s hard to categorize this novel but one thing is for sure, it is delightfully bizarre and laugh-out-loud funny in parts.

The Unlounging

By Selraybob,

Book cover of The Unlounging

Why this book?

Named one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2018, this indie novel proposes that a beer-guzzling car enthusiast can also be a philosopher about time and Einstein’s incorrect (!!!) theory of relativity. Main character Selraybob (also the author of this fictitious novel) is left astray by his wife. When she walks out the door, he notices two clocks that are off by seven minutes. He has an epiphany: time is simply a count! Beer is consumed, the nature of time is pondered, and a picaresque adventure begins, one that will have you laughing until the end.

Nothing to See Here

By Kevin Wilson,

Book cover of Nothing to See Here

Why this book?

What would happen if children with the ability to spontaneously catch on fire were placed in the care of an unsuspecting and inexperienced nanny? That’s the premise of this bizarre yet endearing novel. Main character and narrator Lillian Breaker isn’t fazed at all when she discovers that the two kids she’s been hired to watch after catch on fire whenever they lose their tempers. Can mutant children who catch on fire be loveable? In Kevin Wilson’s world, the answer is yes! Follow Lillian as she learns that she has the capacity to love such seemingly unlovable, flammable children.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the USA Mexico border, good and evil, and life satisfaction?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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