André van Wyck’s The Patchwork Prince: Book One, Stumbling Stoned, is awesome. There, I said it all. Book report over.
Jokes aside, this is one I recommend, lots.
Meet our protagonist, a nameless, memory-less, identity-less, unable to speak, unable to understand the French spoken around him in the psychiatric hospital in which we find him, and his internal monologue. Not to give anything away, but drugs are involved, so are hints of secret agent, plus magic, plus the devil, plus organized crime, plus a new kind of superhero, as Jean (inside joke) escapes from his asylum, absconding with his doctor. What happens next? Well, I don’t want to give more, because, while the plot is zany, it is also full of twists and turns, dead ends, and other maze-like things… ooops, almost slipped up there! So, no, can’t really talk about what happens. But I will say, it is a wild roller-coaster of a ride. In the dark. Naked.
Stumbling Stoned deals a lot with questions about insanity. In particular, what does a probably-sane person, who believes they are insane, do when confronted with the possibility they might be sane? Jean rolls this one around in his mind quite a bit, but finally concludes that there can’t be a conclusion: “…maybe crazy isn’t so easy to opt out of. Maybe you keep receiving the newsletter every month, despite having vehemently cancelled the service.” But even with its rather dark subject matter, Stumbling Stoned remains upbeat and entertaining from cover to cover. Think absurdism, with a large tank of nitrous oxide.
Wyck gives us fairly flat characters, who are mostly used as straight-men to the narrator’s internal monologue. Even Jean doesn’t go through any real development; however, this is all fine. Comedy isn’t so much about the changes characters go through so much as it is how they get bonked in the head for our amusement. Metaphorically speaking.
I would be remiss if I did not spend a little time on Wyck’s writing style. It is a wild ride. Fast-paced without being frenetic, funny with a dash of meta-funny (one can imagine the writer giving us a wink now and then), and hyperbolic without rising to a level that would cause the reader to wag their finger disapprovingly.
What more can I say? If you like funny, buy this book. If you don’t like funny, buy this book and learn to. Everyone else should just buy this book. I believe I can say this is the best book I’ve read all year.