I wouldn’t say that I am necessarily fussy when it comes to reading and I certainly would give anything I try. If you had asked me a month or so ago if I had read every type of book there is, I would have likely answered ‘yes’ (although exaggerated). That was until I came across Strungballs and realised there is a whole new level of book genres just waiting for me to explore.
Strungballs by Mike Russell may be one of the strangest books out there. It follows the story of Sydney, a ten-year-old boy who is about to have his first cube of flesh removed. The flesh will be placed with the flesh of the city’s other inhabitants in a big sphere used to protect them from the “Others”. Sydney will receive a Strungball, a red ball on white string, as a replacement for the flesh. Once a Strungball is inserted, it must never be removed.
In the case of this novella, weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Only 66 pages long, it is a fast read and it gets your mind ticking trying to figure the plotline out. Attempting not to provide any spoilers, this is what ran through my mind while reading:
Russell is reflecting on consumerism. When Sydney receives his Strungball, he is very excited and shows some classmates what he believes is to be the newest model. But it is not, and they laugh. It is probably impossible to have the latest model. There is an entire industry set around producing and marketing Strungballs. It reflects the present day where people are made to believe they always need to have something more to be happy. And they will follow any trend in order to appear normal.
Russell believes we have to step out of our comfort zones, to question everything in order to be happy with oneself. There is some good imagery of duplication and climbing through flesh which exemplified this for me.
But, overall, I can’t say I 100% figured out what this book was about. That is not to say I didn’t have fun trying. I am interested in this new (at least to me) genre of ‘strange fiction’ and I am looking forward to reading some more. If you want to join me, start with the highly unusual and entertaining Strungballs.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.