Monday, February 10, 2014
The Queerling by Austin Gary
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Deckle Press (2013)
Preston Nesbitt became the star of a controversial YouTube video gone viral, yet because he has no memory of participating in the video, he’s been confined to a Portland, Oregon mental hospital. Preston is a precocious, eccentric, sixteen year old, who has the ability to diagnose everybody’s psychological condition but his own. The story is told through Preston’s journal entries, where he hopes to convince his doctor and parents that he is not delusional.
Through Preston’s writings, the reader finds that he is a savant with a rare form of Asperger’s, who rails against society’s wrongs. Much of this story seems like Holden Caulfield meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, yet it has a delightful turn of events that leads to a reality-bending conclusion.
This enchanting tale introduces one of the most complex, interesting, and amusing characters I’ve read in years. Preston Nesbitt, as a fictional character, is nothing short of brilliant. He is cocky, irritating, too clever, egotistical and rude, yet he touches your heart. He blends humor, deep-set emotions, and unique insights to conjure up a mesmerizing read.
While telling his own inner conflicts, Preston lays out the backstory of his dysfunctional parents, and also showcases the pack of memorable misfit peers who are also on his mental ward. The author uses contrast, Preston against the other characters, to brilliantly show the protagonist’s virtues.
This esoteric novel is a captivating delight, first page to last. Funny, thought-provoking, unnerving. Bravo.