Alibi V.12 No.27 • July 3-9, 2003 

Art Article

The Weird Keep Getting Weirder

The Anomalies

Joey Goebel
MacAdam/Cage
hardcover
$22

It takes all kinds. You've got the people who try to be weird, and those who truly are off their rockers. Author Joey Goebel may fall into the former category, but the characters in his debut novel, The Anomalies, fall into the latter. This book is pretty freakin' weird, which makes for some entertaining and surprising reading.

The plot is centered around a group of five people with distinct personality types who have started a band in the self-proclaimed genre: "power-pop new wave heavy metal punk rock." A third of the way into the story, a reader may wonder why the band has yet to practice. Good question. The answer: They would like to, but they don't have anywhere to rehearse, and it doesn't matter that much, because they are legends in their own minds. They know they are good, and they don't have to prove it to anyone. They thrive on their oddities and bask in the glory of each other—as weirdoes often do.

Luster (songwriter/singer) is an outspoken narcissist who thinks outsiders are predictable and stupid. He dreams of rock 'n' roll fame, though his chances of achieving it are slim because he lives with his crack-dealing brothers in the ghetto. Ray (keyboardist) has moved to the United States in search of a man he shot during the Gulf War. His wife and son think he's crazy, and he just may be. His effeminate style of dress gives the impression he's gay, and the fact that he's always going up to men and asking them questions (about whether they were shot in the war) gives the impression that he prefers the company of men. Aurora (drummer) is a wheelchair-bound Satanist, who is well-endowed and extremely attractive; men of all shapes and sizes lust after her.

It's the last two individuals who make the group (more) unbelievable. Ember, the eight-year-old bassist, is going through her angst-filled teenage years much too early. She's a scissors-throwing, antique-breaking brat who no one in their right mind would want to parent. Guitarist Opal rounds everything out. You'd think that her 80 years of life would bring some maturity to the group, but then you'd think wrong. She's just as feisty and bitchy as the rest of her friends.

Besides the antics conducted by the above, there's one more interesting quirk in this novel: Goebel gives glimpses into the minds of random bystanders. Waitstaff who wait on the group at restaurants, cops who crash the flop house and others give their opinions on the group in first-person accounts. While unexpected, these narratives give a helpful depiction of how the fab five act and carry themselves in public.

The Anomalies do eventually find a practice space and, with the help of Aurora's beautiful breasts, land themselves a show. What goes down at the gig throws the band for a loop, but also brings them a strange kind of fame. You've just got to read it to believe it.