Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book Review: 'Mirth Defects' by Clint Forgy

Clint Forgy’s bio sets the mood for this raucous, richly alive journey of a man from birth to whenever. He describes himself thus – ‘Clint Forgy was hatched at a very young age and raised in Iowa, walking 2.4 miles uphill both ways to school. I can prove it. I mean, he can prove it. As a stowaway aboard an Amish buggy, he escaped to Colorado before eventually landing in Missouri aboard the good ship Lollipop.
Forgy hates long walks on a short pier, rainy days, and coconut. He loves bourbon with an air chaser, women in stiletto heels, and the smell of a new grandchild’s scalp. And puppies. After centuries of mundane employment as a canine hair shortener, future organ donor, lion tamer, computer wrangler, and tractor-trailer pilot, Forgy picked up his trusty laptop, set it down to refill his coffee mug, and picked it up again to begin writing. He's always been like that.’ And if any reader with a passion for a fresh outlook on the world we are currently recreating can resist this book, then mores’ the pity.

Take a deep breath and follow Clint’s journey as one JD Ferguson as he slips out of his birth mother’s uterus into the bizarre reality of life as he is going to explore it. ‘I heard the woman scream again, and I couldn't take it anymore. I slipped out of the warm bed and into the cold, cruel world to investigate. I had an enormous headache, and the light wasn't helping. The word "hangover" came to mind but didn't quite fit. I wasn't sure I could remember what a hangover was. It felt like even my head wasn't fitting properly. I saw three faces, a man and two women. The man looked me up and down and shook his head. "Another runt," he growled. I let loose with a roundhouse kick to his chin. The blow missed horribly, but the man didn't seem to notice. "Good one, Papa!" I knew the voice but couldn't remember who it was. Familiar, on the tip of my tongue, but infinitely distant. Still, I felt the urge to thank him. "Thanks, boa." Suddenly, I was jerked into the air, my ankles clasped together by the man, and a sharp whack on my ass made my face contort in pain. I could feel my face turning blue, but I wasn't going to cry this time.’

It is with same degree of keen unique wit that JD courses through the stages of life that punch into our memories of childhood (the good ones with the bad) and onto the mysteries of girls and women and love and fascination and loss and death and all those idiosyncratic phases that together make up life. Or as JD introduces himself, ‘Howdy. My name's JD Ferguson. Pleased to meet you. I was born a poor white child in Des Moines, Iowa back when cars the size of apartments roamed the earth, telephones were nailed to the wall, and people sent Christmas cards to each other. My parents realized early on that I wasn't normal even by our family standards. I was labeled precocious, a little old man, and a tender spirit. What they didn't realize at first was that I was chasing women the whole time. I even tried hitting on the nurse that swaddled me as I slipped from my mama's womb. She had big hair and blue eyes. I was powerless. I couldn't control myself if I wanted, and I sure as hell didn't want to. Except for the doctor who insisted I spend some time in an incubator, I liked people. I became addicted to meeting new ones, and I quickly realized there were two types of people: a) men who didn't seem to give a damn that they were privileged to hold me, and b) women who seemed to love holding me and didn't want to give me back to my parents. I became a flaming heterosexual.’

Is the entire book like that? Yes, and even better as JD manages to touch every sensitive point in our memories and worn old fantasies, encouraging us to blush at how wonderfully ordinary we are – part of the world family that we can either critique or guffaw. Clint Forgy is the freshest voice to tiptoe into the spotlight of American literature in a very long time. Breathe in, breathe out. Sigh and enjoy. Grady Harp, January 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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