James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish was introduced to me by the dude himself, at an author panel organized by SCBWI-Illinois. Amidst sage advice on how to promote a book, Kennedy retold a doozy I’d have taken for the “don’t do this” pile – a doozy involving “whimsically insulting” Neil Gaiman AND a theatrical attempt to de-Newbery him.
So, I’ll admit, one of my first thoughts was, “Is this a book for me?” In the end, I figured if Odd-Fish was half as entertaining as the guy himself during an author panel, I’d be in good hands.
Lucky for me, the Odd-Fish paperback came out soon after I’d taken a five-chapter bite. For the release party at 57th Street Books, Kennedy answered questions and gave a few outrageous performance-readings. With a story this Python-esque and darkly visual, the action seemed to come at me – so the cadence of his voice offered the perfect pace to read by.
There were times I couldn’t keep up with that pace, like whenever my pesky left brain seemed to reject the idea of the Order of Odd-Fish: these knights who dither as an occupation, creating an Appendix of dubious facts, rumors, and myths. But at other times, my micro-managing self receded into the background – as any party-pooper should – and I had an absolute blast.
The book opens like an overture: action from all angles. Jo Larouche, the main character, kept my attention until the pace found its footing. From there, the romp was on. For one thing, who can resist a villain who reads back issues of Sassy magazine? (No one, that’s who.) On page 275, I laughed out loud at a 112-word sentence that recalls Douglas Adams’s charming absurdity. And in the opening scenes of the book, as Jo enjoys the fake sarcophagus her Aunt Lily gave her for Christmas, Kennedy’s description reads:
“The inside of the mummy’s coffin, lined with black velvet cushions, was surprisingly comfortable. Lying in it, she felt pleasantly dead.”
If that isn’t an argument for adverbs, I don’t know what is. It certainly made me smile.
(Bottom line: You gotta see what this guy is up to. You can also check out his interview with Rick Kogan on WGN radio!)
On the big news front, Kennedy has received an overwhelming amount of fan art for The Order of Odd-Fish – and on Saturday, April 17th at 7pm, he’s partnering with Collaboraction for a showing in their gallery at 437 N Wolcott. Come for the rooms decorated as scenes from Odd-Fish, and stay for the costumed battle-dance party – the Carnaval Dome of Doom.
How would you like to win an autographed Odd-Fish paperback AND Kennedy’s soundtrack mix CD?
Just answer me this…
Among the Odd-Fish, a “society of ditherers,” each knight takes up their own pointless research. Sir Festus, for instance, studies absurd musical instruments like the “urk-ack” – a live animal whose innards have forty-one sweet spots with which one can play a beautiful tune. So: Tell me about an absurd Odd-Fishian musical instrument of your own invention. How would it work? What would it sound like?
Submit your answer as a comment by Sunday, March 21 at 11:59pm CST!
(Please note: Tweeting/blogging about the contest adds karma appeasing Odd-Fish’s 144,444 gods!)
James Kennedy himself will determine the winningest, most absurd instrument! The lucky winner will get an autographed copy of The Order of Odd-Fish in paperback (complete with sweet cover art by Paul Hornschemeier) and a BONUS PRIZE: Kennedy’s own special Odd-Fish mix of tunes.
Add your entry today!
UPDATE: This contest has ended, and the results are right here!