My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If I ever get narcissistic enough to create my own awards (and that may not be far off because I like myself a hell of a lot), I would have to give one to Patrick Wensink for Black Hole Blues. I could call them the “Steve Awards for Achievement in Bizarre Literature”. Who wouldn’t want to receive a SAABL? Nobody, that’s who. The award Wensink would win is for ‘Doing Something I’ve Not Seen Before’. Or maybe a shorter name than that, I don’t know yet, but he would win it because Wensink does it.
He wrote a novel with very novel Points of View. A sandwich. A guitar. A stolen automobile. A barbeque grill. A rather vulgar and pissed off atomic particle. We experience Black Hole Blues through the “eyes” of each of these things, and a few others. While that might seem at first like a stunt, and I suppose it mostly is, it still works. Wensink manages to give these things, these rather benign inanimate objects, their own perspective but also a dash of humanity that helps the reader relate to them. (And please note that this may have been done before, but as I mentioned previously, I hadn’t seen it before, and if I haven’t seen it, then it might as well not exist.)
Yes, the idea of a sad, forgetten and rotting club sandwich telling us a story is absurd, but that’s also what makes this book fun. The human characters are, without a doubt, the core of this story, but the real pleasure comes in reading what is already a goofy tale through completely different and inventive perspectives, and that’s why it stands out. You see the characters in different ways and learn more about them than perhaps we otherwise would have. These varying POVs are punctuated throughout and interspersed between the POVs of the human characters, but to be honest, I think the whole thing could have been written from the perspective of different inanimate objects because Wensink does it so well.
The other thing you need to pay attention to is the blog that goes with this book. If you haven’t visited Death to Kenny Rogers yet, you’re not only missing out, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Don’t disservice yourself. You really need to get weekly doses of Kenny Rogers’s evil. It’s a public service that will earn Patrick Wensink the SAABL for Humanitarian Service. Congrats, Pat! Two-time winner!