1. What is the oddest book you ever read? Did you love it? Hate it? Did it make you think?
The oddest book that comes to mind is either Woman's World or Diary of an Amateur Photographer by Graham Rawle. These are both very weird little books. They both had what I thought were really interesting approaches to their narrative....but in the end the odd approach far outweighed the real power to fascinate.
Woman's World: At heart, Rawle's fantasia—constructed entirely out of 40,000 text fragments, printed in facsimile, that he cut from 1960s British women's magazines—is a tribute to the pulp noir spirit. In suburban England circa 1960, 29-year-old Roy Little suffers from a split personality, apparently the result of a mysterious accident (or was it?) sustained by his sister in childhood. His other self, Norma Fontaine, lives in a dream of the latest fashions, beauty tips and handy hints for the home, watched over by an attentive if disapproving housekeeper, Mary. Or could Mary actually be Roy's mother? We find ourselves rooting for Roy as he applies for a job and meets the attractive, good-humored Eve in a cafe. But Norma keeps rearing her unruly head until one afternoon, she dresses herself to the nines and gets picked up by a photographer, Mr. Hands, with deadly results. British collagiste Rawle charms with sheer campy gumption. The text itself, however, looks like a cut-'n'-paste ransom note.
Diary of an Amateur Photographer: When Michael Whittingham joins his local camera club and stumbles across a bizarre photograph from 1959, he is plunged into an investigation which takes him through the seedy world of fifties glamour photography - a world which has surprising connections with his troubled childhood. Before long, he finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession.
Michael's diary, which he keeps to record his photographic achievements, also turns into a casebook of evidence as he tries to answer some important questions: why has someone ripped the head off a model from one of his magazines? Will Mrs. Williams agree to pose for him in her underwear - as he is certain she has for others in the past? Is the woman in the cake shop more than just a pretty face? And what dark secret does the old Studio Arts Club hold?
In casting himself in the role of amateur photographer (glamour work a specialty), Michael unwittingly steps into the shoes of the original perpetrator of the crime. And it slowly becomes apparent that the final revelation could be his undoing. - (Blackwell North Amer)