"The Tumours Made Me Interesting" Book Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Published by LegumeMan Books
Written by Matthew Revert
2011, 198 pages, Fiction
Released on October 10th, 2011
The more you read, the harder it is to find a book that surprises you. In the case of Matthew Revert's The Tumours Made Me Interesting, the entire narrative is like reading a succession of unexpected literary morsels that range from the surreal to the hilarious and leaves your brain full of buzzing exclamation points.
The Tumours Made Me Interesting tells the story of Bruce Miles, a pudgy, middle-aged office worker with low self-esteem who's plagued by the plethora of ailments that come from general bad health. Bruce's life has been tied to that of his mother, who fell ill after his birth. Her disease, which has baffled doctors ever since it started, slowly turned her into an arm. With his mother in bed and a father that was carried away by a falcon when Bruce was 12, the man simply drifts through life as a non-entity, a self-described "talentless nobody destined to die alone and unremembered." However, one day Bruce develops a condition that pushes him to visit a doctor. After digging a spherical tumor out of Bruce's colon with his bare hands, the doctor diagnoses Bruce with terminal cancer, and it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Bruce has special tumors and when he accepts to meet Fiona, a sickness enthusiast who's at the forefront of an international fan club of illnesses, he finally becomes someone who others find terribly interesting. Instead of trying to get rid of the tumors, Fiona makes sure that those who have recently come into Bruce's life help him nurture them. When Bruce realizes what's really happening, not trying to fight his cancer will help him in unexpected ways.
Equal parts surreal treat, bizarro novel, comedic masterpiece and gory, fun-filled drama, The Tumours Made Me Interesting would be best described as a weird and wonderful dramedy. Instead of relying on pure shock value, Revert carefully crafted a story full of unique characters, unexpected plot twists and wildly entertaining dialogue. The result is a book that's fun to read and that keeps throwing new elements your way as the story develops. In a way, making the reader care about Bruce Miles is probably the author's greatest achievement.
By being so far out there, The Tumours Made Me Interesting will appeal to lovers of things as different as Kurt Vonnegut's work and the movie The Truman Show. As a bonus, the strangeness in the story comes via Revert's eloquent prose, which paints everything with something akin to reality even when it's absolutely incredible.
From a collection of very quotable lines (i.e. "I remember looking at the clock and seeing a time I'd never seen before." or "So much of life is shit, piss and vomit. The waste itself is no way near as disgusting as our urge to run away from it.") to the dark humor that permeates the novel, The Tumours Made Me Interesting is a must-read.
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