Sylvania, Ohio, one of the safest cities in the world,or at least, it was. Now, it’s nearly impossible for most people to walk the streets without being attacked by bizarre flying objects. With random pieces of machines vanishing, walking proves to be the safest way to get anywhere. No one knows what is going on, except for the mysterious Professor Huzzah, who claims to be the cause of it. Villainy as well as a new normal are afoot in Sylvania with no end in sight. Alas, places like the town Joey Stuffleberg call home don’t breed superheroes and with a name like Stuffleberg he’s the last person that would come to mind. Sylvania breeds people like him, a mild-mannered marketing writer whose top priority is taking a nap in his own bed. Finding the hero buried deep inside may be the only path he has to taking that nap.
“And I’ve been saying things like fudge this morning because that creep on TV last night said something about maybe widespread immorality throughout the city was the cause of all the weird shit that’s been happening like there’s a border between dimensions composed purely of moral fiber and by being a bunch of soulless assholes we might have caused that fiber to break down, which is probably pure bullshit stolen from a science fiction book but I tried to be clean just in case. But fucking profanity is not immoral and that was probably some frustrated high school nerd hijacking the airwaves last night so there’s probably nothing to worry about. I really hope there isn’t.”
Joey lives with his older, free-spirited stoner brother Thomas. On a not so typical Ohio morning Joey is awakened by the smell of moldy green cheese. I don’t know if you all know this but consuming cheese before bed can lead to terrible nightmares byway of haunting your subconscious; does waking up to it lead to a boding evil for the rest of your day? On his way to work as a marketing writer for a local eatery called Stark & King, Joey neglects his daily hygienic regiment and takes his trusty 2010 Ford Escort in order to avoid a verbal reprimand from his boss Little Len Bradley for being late. Unfortunately, his glove compartment with his “Axe” body spray is missing, and if you thought moldy cheese smelled bad, wait till Joey’s own brand of mid-afternoon ripening. Let’s just say that he is quickly sent home to clean up after crossing the threshold with his tail between his legs and patrons noses pinched. Within mere moments his car has vanished, but fortunately for him he has a reserve 2002 Toyota Camry in the driveway, unfortunately for him once he gets in it is missing all four key holes. When he calls a cab he finds out that there is some sort of force field surrounding his neighborhood that he can’t breach. If things weren’t bad enough Joey is periodically pelted by produce from the aerial assault of Professor Martin Huzzah’s minions. Huzzah is intent on world aggravation by preying on the overreaction of people bringing widespread panic and something tells me the following days are going to bring many complications.
I am not going to lie, the author lost me at times, especially when we were introduced to the uprising at the Magellan center and the following trips back to the square. This novella was a nice, surreal light-hearted change of pace that was very much needed after reading some pretty heavy material lately. As an aside I find it incredibly peculiar that the previous novel I read had a primary character named Ben Bradley and an antagonist who was dead set on utilizing micro organisms for regional biological warfare. The similarities between consecutive books happens a little more than I would like to admit. Back to the topic at hand, the author provides a fun environment, filled with quirky characters, “permissible” racial stereotyping, bizarre happenings and a good understanding of the most nutritional food group, but can someone tell what the hell an etrog is?