Unabridged Access

26 September 2016

Staff Listens: Paul Jenkins’s Curioddity

Our rotational associate Conor shares his latest listen, Paul Jenkins’s Curioddity. Curioddity is available as a digital download: Audiobooks.com, Audible, and iTunes

Curioddity_audio_no narratorCheck some of your common sense and your sense of gravity at the door, for Curioddity by Paul Jenkins is not at all a misnomer.

Wil Morgan, a down-on-his-luck private investigator, specializes in divorce surveillance and insurance fraud. Frequently, the most-lively portion of his day is arguing with a teenage barista over the corporate vernacular needed to order a large coffee with room. He’s become a trudging soul, bereft of life’s magic. Even in his dreams, he can’t win the World’s Biggest Failure competition.

But when the singular Mr. Dinsdale, the proprietor of the titular museum, comes to Wil’s office with an odd job, everything changes. Dinsdale—narrated by the talented P.J. Ochlan as fittingly and pleasantly kooky—sets the detective on the case to find a missing box of “levity” (the opposite of gravity), but the last thing he wants Wil to do on his search is look; rather, he needs Wil to un-look. This task eventually leads to a showdown with the most farfetched of all arch-villains, who wants to close down Mr. Dinsdale’s museum for his own nefarious ends.

Curioddity is quite fanciful and silly. Wil fears revolving doors. His girlfriend, Lucy, has named her Ford Pinto “Genghis” because she takes no prisoners on the road. The Siri-esque SARA that came with Wil’s smartphone is more person than software. Temporal and spatial anomalies abound. Fantastical doodads and beings populate this novel—there’s a Perpetual Emotion machine, Whatsit, Sequitur, Quantum Needle, Civil War periscope, lightning catcher, and a military-grade exoskeleton, not to mention aliens of different colors and ninja-bots.

Yet there are poignantly tender moments between Wil and his dad tucked away, and there’s also a nudging message lurking in the novel’s heart: in this time of modern in(s)anities, we all need to learn to look at the world anew, with fresh eyes, to enjoy what’s here by imagining what else might’ve been. What better way to keep your eyes on the world—and to get a frown of the upside-down variety—than to listen to this delightful tale on audiobook? As several characters say, “your eyes only see what your mind lets you believe.” Let this audiobook into your ears, and all three will thank you. Check out the excerpt here:

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