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Paperback Book Details
  • 02/2020
  • 9780996881043
  • 278 pages
  • $16.99
99 Erics: a Kat Cataclysm faux novel
Julia Serano, author
Julia Serano’s long-awaited debut novel regales readers with the adventures (and/or misadventures) of Kat Cataclysm, an ethically non-monogamous bisexual woman and absurdist short fiction writer. 99 Erics is a humorous account of Kat’s experiences writing a book called 99 Erics, which is about her experiences dating ninety-nine different people named Eric. It is more surreal than slutty. Not that there is anything wrong with slutty. The book is largely comprised of amusing anecdotes from Kat’s dates with various Erics; satirical takes on relationships, sexual conventions, language, the writing process, book publishing, online media, and tech culture; and Kat’s smart yet silly digressions on a variety of topics, including the distorted nature of memories, hipsters, sex toys, sabermetrics, YA dystopian fiction, trendy restaurants, temporal anomalies, Freudian slips, banana slug mating practices, lucid dreaming, the internet of things, poetry slams, and Prince lyrics, to name but a few. These more fanciful passages are seamlessly interwoven with more serious and mundane matters, such as navigating the world as a woman and sexual minority, being an outcast who doesn’t really fit in, struggling to make ends meet, and reconciling one’s past with the present. The end result is a fun and fast read that tackles meaty subjects and contemporary issues along the way.
Reviews
Serano (Whipping Girl) drenches readers in satire and absurdity in this “faux novel” written from the perspective of Kat Cataclysm, a wannabe author who decides to jumpstart her career by introducing more conflict into her life -- in the form of dating 99 men named Eric and novelizing the experience. With light chapters that recount Kat’s dates and failed relationships, the tone akin to conversational journal entries or letters to friends, Serano delves into issues of city life and contemporary romance, such as how money destroyed San Francisco or an analysis of Kat’s annoyance when straight men assume bi women will want a threesome

The fourth wall is not so much broken as dispensed with altogether, with the various vignettes presented as if the narrator has stepped outside the story to present to readers a slideshow on particular incidents, down to dialog presented in a script format and dry run downs of quirky dates: “He immediately started complaining about how the place was a bit too ‘divey’ for his tastes, even though there was no piss all over the bathroom floors.” This clinical approach, while comic, creates distance not only between Kat and the events she’s recounting, but between readers and the story’s emotional elements, as do Serrano’s leaps into metafictional comedy— Kat describes a room full of child actors stabbing her date to death to prove that she’s the all-powerful narrator.

The appeal, here, is in Kat’s noxious encounters with Erics and how she heroically mines them for witty considerations of the absurdities women face when dating -- and even occasional catharsis. Still, readers looking for more traditional emotional release, though, will face frustration. Even Kat’s breakup with her longtime non-monogamous partner, which she describes as causing “all the feelings,” is related in dispassionate and jokey tones. In the end, 99 Erics fully embraces the ludicrous and rides it into the sunset.

Takeaway: This meta-fictional satire in which a woman dates 99 Erics will please readers who favor pointed absurdity over emotion

Great for fans of: Daniel M. Lavery’s Something That May Shock And Discredit You, Spike Milligan’s Puckoon.

Production grades
Cover: C
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 02/2020
  • 9780996881043
  • 278 pages
  • $16.99

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