Damn you, Chuck! (AKA: The Amazing Wendig)

Damn you, Chuck. The last thing I needed was another author addiction.

I like my fantasy the same way I like my tea, black, unsweetened, and deep. Chuck Wendig is one of the rare authors who seems to tap into that without any shame or apology. That’s probably why, despite the fact that I’ve only read two of his many books, I already count him among my favorite authors.

There is something appealing about an author who isn’t afraid to write truly dirty, broken characters in such a realistic way that you feel like you need to take a shower to clean yourself off after. While that might sound like an insult, it’s really not. How much magic is contained in the books that leave you reeling physically, spiritually, and emotionally after you turn the last page? And what kind of a magician does it take to write a book that powerful?

Perhaps I am waxing a bit ridiculously poetic about an author whose work I love because of the fact that it is dirty, written with a kind of grim art that I don’t get to wallow in, or appreciate enough. The thing about reading is that readers get to experience so many different lives, of numerous classes and qualities. Sometimes it feels good to live with the rich and wealthy for a time, and then sink down to the street rats, the broken and bitter characters like Miriam.

If you are familiar with Wendig at all, you’ll know that part of his charm is the fact that this man can say, “fuck” in more ways than anyone I’ve ever met, and all of these ways are hilarious and charming despite the fact that he is still saying “fuck” (full disclosure: I am one of those people that swearing doesn’t bother in the least). His books are the same way, laced with profanity and wry, incredibly dark humor, they will charm you no matter how hard you try not to be charmed. His descriptions, his style of prose, and his profanity all have a hard edge that so many books seem to shy away from. Wendig embraces it. Life is dark, dirty and cruel, and he’s not afraid to fill his book with that. Working along with this is Wendig’s lyrical, almost deceptively artistic prose that make beauty shine through some very unexpected places.

Miriam is a tortured, absolutely unique character. Her gift is a gift that has broken her, and if anyone really thinks about it, that’s a gift that would break and isolate anyone. His realism with Miriam, her inner struggles, and the barbed wire (in the form of dark, caustic humor) she has wrapped herself in is equal parts repellent and fascinating. Miriam is a true example of a powerhouse literary character that I will never forget, and I never want to let go of. Through Miriam, Wendig displays how profanity and dark themes can be incredibly compelling, artistic, and absorbing. You hate to love Miriam. She makes you look at things differently, a bit deeper, and makes the supernatural spin so many authors glorify and glamorize, seem so much more real. Miriam is real. Her situation is real, and Wendig is one hell of an author for his ability to bring her to life.

“She thinks, I want an orange soda. And I want vodka to mix into the orange soda. And while we’re at it, I’d also like to stop being able to see how people are going to bite it. Oh, and a pony. I definitely want a goddamn pony.”  – Blackbirds

So combine those past two paragraphs: the amazing characterization mixed with the profanity, dark humor, and absolutely breathtaking prose. You get some of the most deceptively powerful writing you’ll ever come across in the genre.

‘Miriam takes it and drinks. It’s a lush, bitey red. She’s not a wine fan. Everyone always says they can taste something in wine (chocolate, pipe smoke, figs, grass clippings, the sweat off a nine-year-old Cuban who’s been floating around the ocean for two weeks on a raft made of banana crates), but Miriam can only ever taste “angry grape.”’ – Mockingbird

Short sentences, but power resides in word choice and delivery, and that’s Wendig’s forte, that’s the art that he’s perfected with his writing. He manages to not only bring things to life, but he makes you look at them far differently than you’ve ever looked at them before. He’s not afraid to embrace the hard edges of life and he infuses his writing with emotion that spans the gamut from bliss to absolute depression and shocking personal torment. His books take readers on one hell of a ride.

“You grab the core essence of a true problem and swaddle it in the mad glittery ribbons of fantasy — and therein you find glorious new permutations of conflict. Reality expressed in mind-boggling ways. Reach for fantasy. Find the reality.”

Why do I think you should stop what you are doing right now and read a book by Chuck Wendig? It’s simple, really. Wendig is that rare storyteller that manages to not spin a yarn. He slips into your blood and brain as well. His characters, his world and become part of you. He’s dark, edgy, and his characters are fantastically broken (something I have a soft spot for). His delivery in the form of deceptively powerful prose, and some of the best characters I’ve ever read, just make him an even more incredible author. Further bonus: Wendig isn’t afraid of the dark, or gray areas. In fact, it seems like he embraces them.

I’ve only read two of his books so far, but Wendig writes so fast it’s like he as a computer in his head. I doubt I’ll run out of content anytime soon. Not only is he constantly churning out powerful novels, but he also writes on his website, Terrible Minds, just about daily. This is one of those authors that I am still discovering, but I’m doing it slowly. Wendig’s books are books I prefer to savor rather than devour.

Try one out. You’ll understand why.

9 Responses

  • Chuck’s work is a dangerous addiction for one’s wallet. 🙂

  • I started with Blackbirds. Then I read The Blue Blazes. Then Mockingbird. (VERY impatiently awaiting delivery of Cormorant.) Under the Empyrean Sky’s end made me growl. Also I am reading the short story collection Irregular Creatures.

    You’re right. Not many authors win devotion like this so quickly.

    • I started with BLACKBIRDS and just finished MOCKINGBIRD yesterday. I have THE BLUE BLAZES at the library but I’m VERY excited about reading it. Usually two books into an author I reserve judgment, but that’s impossible with Chuck. Anyone who can write a charactor like Miriam deserves to be on my list.

  • I love this post so hard I kinda wanna marry it. I don’t know if that’s legal anywhere but Vermont.

    • I thought all the weird kinky stuff happened in Nevada.

      • Actually, that’s where the boring kinky stuff is legal. Vermont is where all the really nutty stuff is happening.

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