Nicole Del Sesto,
All Encompassing Trip
(Afterbirth, 2006)

They don't call it bizarro fiction for nothing.

The term, coined in 2005 by a number of independent publishing companies, is a literary genre that focuses on two key aspects: weirdness and entertainment. Just ask author Nicole Del Sesto, whose truly bizarre All Encompassing Trip is exactly that: a trip. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. And, being my first experience with this contemporary genre, I wasn't particularly impressed with the offering.

What did me in could have been any number of things, really. The coyote in a do-rag who serenaded Nikki and Amber is particularly noteworthy. As is the mysterious disappearance of coffee, in all forms of the word: no coffee beans, no coffeemakers, no coffee stores (including Starbucks). And it's not like the stuff is all but forgotten, either. Nikki, the protagonist, desires coffee at seemingly every turn, but is instantly rejected every time because her coffeemaker or any old Starbucks just, well, disappears in front of her eyes.

The novel takes off when one day the world curiously undergoes some serious changes. Animals begin speaking, coffee is nowhere to be found and the only programs on television are reality TV reruns. Oh, light -- as in the sun -- is gone as well. So, author Del Sesto leaves it is up to best friends Nikki and Amber to reclaim the world they remember before it went nuts (or something like that). That is, of course, if they can properly contend with a little Irishman (read: midget) once their paths finally cross. Phew, I'm tired just talking about the blasted thing.

Points deservedly go to Del Sesto for a creative mind, at least. I admit, I had to chuckle every now and then at some of the absurdities she pulled out of seemingly nowhere. And even though the plot bounced around in any which way -- particularly between the journeys of Nikki and the Irishman -- the silliness never really strayed too far from going completely off the deep end. In All Encompassing Trip, Del Sesto creates a simple, yet colorful world that is in need of repair.

No fault of the book here, but I prefer to read novels with a bit more depth to them. Writing a novel for the sake of writing a novel in hopes of it merely being funny doesn't quite cut it for me. Neither did its length: nearly 300 pages. When comparing page counts, it's no War & Peace by any means, but this one could have easily tapped out at under 200 pages, max.

Between a recommendation and outright denial, I choose the latter, assuming the majority of readers would plead for something a bit more sophisticated. But if no, give it a whirl. You're in for quite the trip.

review by
Eric Hughes

31 May 2008

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