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Drama Dolls: A Novel: [Dark, Suspenseful,…
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Drama Dolls: A Novel: [Dark, Suspenseful, Fast-paced, Exhilarating]

by Jason Tanamor

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This book had me in two minds. Two minds about Jeffrey, about drama, and about extremity. Jeffrey is what could be called a normal man who responds in the most normal and suitable manner possible when a spouse dies, by finding the deep end and prancing all over it while doing star jumps. Desperate star jumps. Mascara stained, crusty wigged star jumps. It is a reaction as valid as any when it comes to grief and Jeffrey’s spiralling is at the heart of this book.

The writing is vibrant, terse, caustic at times but always with Jeffrey. It never sneers, like some of those bit players who take offence at Jeffrey in the raw, an unfiltered wreck before them who’s beyond caring, and they know it. It’s hard to deal, for those around him sure, but they all know that Jeffrey has it the worst. There’s something triumphant about Jeffrey embracing his inner doll, even if it costs him.

Luckily for Jeffrey he is surrounded by a few kindred doll souls who will do what it takes to let him have his grief and eat it. Soon they are thieving from houses in a ritualised purge, playing with jewels and feeling the heat of handling precious things that don’t belong, being in houses, lives, where they shouldn’t be. Headlights in the dark through the windows while they catch their breaths. All part of a path of not thinking things through, of letting the illogical and impulsive guide. They care too much, these dolls.

So what are my two minds? They don’t contradict, in the traditional sense. They are complementary two minds. They are the straight and true, and then the crooked and warped. They each feed the other and they don’t have to reconcile. Like I said, the only sane response to grief so bad. ( )
  RebeccaGransden | Aug 3, 2016 |
My original Drama Dolls audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Not sure where to start with this review as I'm still processing this book long after I have finished it. I am finding it difficult to write this mostly because it was an extremely intense listen. This does not mean that I didn't enjoy every minute of this book. This is definitely a dark story that starts off a little confusing as you try to digest which character goes with which alter ego, but once it gets going you become part of the insanity. The characters dress up as drama dolls (cheerleaders) to commit crimes and also to feel beautiful while committing these actions. As much as I say that I cannot relate to the characters' actions, in contrast, their feelings are very real and you will experience and be influenced by every emotion during this story. The author does a fantastic job with the main character Jeffery, who definitely has the most intense story in this book as the story starts off after he recently lost his wife. I was transfixed with every bit of Jeffery's story as it slowly unfolded through the book, and how his psyche was dealing with it. As small pieces of information are smoothly brought into the light of the story, another twist or turn will leave you absolutely clamoring for more. The ending was brilliant as it brings everything together but also will leave you shocked.

The narrator, Tom Kruse, would not have been who I selected although I'm not sure of the authors vision for the audiobook. The narrator sounded like a deep-voiced older gentlemen speaking in a very soothing and mono-toned voice that brings a calming feeling to an otherwise very creepy story, which may have very well been the authors intent. However, I was a little disappointed as I felt as if someone with a little more inflection had narrated, there could have been an even more heightened intensity to the story.

Audiobook was provided for review by the Author. ( )
  audiobibliophile | May 26, 2016 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So here's an interesting question for contemplation: Is there such a thing as a "standard" bizarro novel, and is it even possible to have such a definition? After all, part of what marks this underground literary genre is that it consists of books that are the most out-there out of all of them, strange and cartoonish stories whose plots change radically from one title to the next. But that said, after now reading hundreds of such books as part of running this website, I must admit that Jason Tanamor's Drama Dolls comes uncomfortably close to containing that fabled "checklist" that such an uncheckable genre like bizarro by all rights shouldn't have, but yet is seeming to slowly come together these days anyway, as more and more bizarro authors start existing in our 21st-century society. Subversive main characters who live on the edges of polite society? Check! Their subversion having to also do with the LGBT community? Check! These main characters acting out through cartoonishly violent, Tarantino-style criminal acts? Check! The entire thing written in a deadpan style reminiscent of a fable or children's tale? Check and mate! I don't mean to pick out Tanamor's book specifically for criticism, because certainly it's not badly done at all; but it is a good example of how even this genre for "literature on the edge" is starting to get awfully commodified at this point, which to be fair says more about the oversaturation of the contemporary novel industry than it does about any one particular bizarro author. Enjoyable for what it is, I must also confess that Drama Dolls left me at the end sort of shrugging my shoulders a bit and muttering "meh," a book that's not bad by any means but that nonetheless will probably only appeal to hardcore bizarro fans and no one else. It should be kept in mind before picking up a copy.

Out of 10: 7.8, or 8.8 for fans of bizarro literature ( )
  jasonpettus | Feb 16, 2016 |
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