The other day I was pouring over the blog of a WordPress blogger called “sourgirlohio”. I enjoyed it a lot as her blog seemed to be the half of my stray thoughts that missed being blogs. Similar writing style, that sort of thing. Here stuff can be read here:
Anywho, she had this idea for a blog that I was sort of surprised I had never done myself. “Books that Inspire Me”. Essentially just the occasional blog where she gives props to a book that helped forge her. So, loving that idea, I’m going to try it me’self.
Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask was one of the first books I ever bought at a book store as opposed to just reading a book out of the massive library of my father and step-mom’s combined collections. An old friend of mine, Kat, kept taking me out to this little area near Cleveland called Coventry where there was (still is) this magical little book store. It just reeks of moist pages. It’s not the best store, they’re attached to a vegan restaurant so a lot of the moisture from their kitchen seeps in and…frankly…ages the books quicker than they should, but it’s still a nice place. I remember seeing this book on the shelf and, as a young nerd, had to have it for the title alone. Problem was I was broke.
I came back a week later, paid and plucky, and it was gone. But the guy told me he could order it, a few months later (remember, this was the turn of the century) the book finally came in and I brought it home.
Beyond the title, the author also pulled me in. Jim Monroe, a man who worked at AdBusters, wrote it. AdBusters was a magazine I used to be obsessed with. It was this wonderful magazine that, via the use of full page anti-establishment themed art, makes a young adult feel like an activist without all that pesky reading. Yes, I get the irony of buying a book as someone who was avoiding reading. I didn’t hate reading…I was just lazy/picky.
Anywhooooooo, one night I popped it open and gave it a read. I read the entire book that night. To the point where I called off work the next day. I loved it. Before I go into why, let me describe the book. I’ll give it the old fifth grade book report go.
For this, I need you to picture a very young me, standing in front of a group of youngin’s with a bunch of papers in my hand reading in a monotone voice.
Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask is a book by Jim Monroe. In it, a young college student who is single and down on his luck, falls in love with a waitress. Also, he has the power to turn into a housefly and she has the power to make things disappear, never to be seen again.
That’s my summation. Thank you.
Anyways, I can give you a short explanation of why I loved it, and a long one.
Short explanation is three words. “It. Is. Real.”
(Now for the long one)
Not real in the sense that these events actually happened. Obviously they did not. But real in the sense that the actions of the characters feel like real things real people would do. Something I never encountered in a book before or since.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Adams and Gaiman and all them, but the main character from Flyboy, Ryan, would sometimes make a mistake so fucking stupid that it almost felt like the book was going to crash. Not only that, sometimes he’d just stay in and you had to live with him as he did so.
It’s not as boring as it sounds though. The writing, in my opinion, is top notch.
But he captures what life was like for me at 22 so perfectly. Just like him, I was single, I was love lorn, I had a crush on someone I purposely altered my day allowing me to encounter them more often. Things like that. I totally bonded with the character.
And when he gets into a relationship, it was the exactly relationship I always wanted, except, instead of us sitting around and watching Sailor Moon all day with their Sailor Moon rings, we watch Doctor Who and hold Sonic Screwdrivers. Tomato, toma…fuck that doesn’t translate into text.
There was one part in the book that REALLY impressed me. More so than the rest. There is a sex scene in this book that I love. It’s not “dear Penthouse”. But it’s the first time the character had sex. And while the scene is surprisingly lengthy and detailed, it’s not vulgar. Not like that terrifying deleted scene from the directs cut of The Stand where you’re practically begging Steven King to never let the elderly reminisce about sex again. This was actually a beautiful scene. Not the way you want your first time to go, but the way you expect it to go.
This scene really inspired my writing. Yes, admittedly I’ve written the vulgar piece or two. No, I don’t know if my parents have ever read this blog. Hi dad! But I have written some. But that wasn’t the inspirational bit. It told me that scenes didn’t have to be written the same. All sex scenes didn’t have to be sweaty and aggression filled. Just like westerns didn’t need shoot outs, future tails didn’t need robots, dinosaur stories didn’t need raptors. Things like that. When I read that scene, every trope flew out the window, broke apart into their base elements and devices, and flew back into my head.
Suddenly, that sci-fi story I was writing about the rouge pilot in space changed drastically as he suddenly was filled with a desire to go home and hang out with his dog. The lone warrior in the modern day setting, had a hidden desire to be a graphic artist. It was amazing and it honestly helped me take the two dimensional characters I was writing and give life unto them.
Definitely give it a whirl. You can get it for around 10 bucks and is worth several times that. In my eyes at least. You could hate it, that’s your thing. Just like I could hate you. *glares* Haha. But seriously, give it a whirl.