WSBG reviews Gob’s Grief by Chris Adrian


So as I sat down to write the World’s Smallest Book Group’s most recent read, I suddenly realized I didn’t review last month’s book.  51sf0232t3l_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_1

And I had a damn good reason. I have no idea what to say about it. Except that it was the weirdest, most bizarre, truly outlandish book I think we ever read.

The book was Gob’s Grief by Chris Adrian. It begins with an 11-year-old boy (Tomo) leaving home to join the Union Army as a bugler during the Civil War. And was killed in the first battle he encountered. Shot right through the eye.  When the twin brother (Gob) who backed out of the army-joining thing at the last minute hears of his brother’s death, he is overcome with grief and sets out on a mission to bring the civil war dead back to life.

Along the way we meet up with Walt Whitman (yes, that Walt Whitman) in an army hospital in Washington D.C. where he takes a rather ummmmm, shall we say, obsessive interest in a wounded young man. We also encounter women from the suffrage movement (including Tomo and Gob’s mother Victoria Woodhull) and get into abortion, time travel, time machine construction, Abe Lincoln, photography, medicine, free love, communism, and many other topics I can’t remember any longer.

And in the end, it turns out that it was actually….  oh, sorry, almost spoiled it.

If you like reading really bizarre books that refer to everything but in the end might mean nothing, this just might be the book for you.

The World’s Smallest Book Group is not among its fans. The book jacket blurbs were quite enthusiastic, though sometimes from rather obscure sources. We did agree with this one from The Economist however: “Remarkable…utterly different. A work unlike any that has come before it.”


One response

  1. I have to admit, your review has intrigued me even though you didn’t much seem to care for the book. A book unlike anything that has come before is pretty hard to resist. And a bizarre book that references everything but means nothing? Who could pass that by? I’ll pick up a copy and let you know what I think.