1book140: Vote for a Weird-Fiction Book to Read in July

By J. Nathan Matias
At the beautiful observatory where H.P. Lovecraft worked and wrote during his time in Providence, Rhode Island, fans still gather to celebrate his weird, fantastic genius.
After I posted the photo to Twitter, our online community decided to focus on Weird Fiction this month and nominated over 50 books for our Twitter book club to consider reading. I've picked four finalists here. Vote below, before noon on Tuesday, July 1st. This month's selections have been especially great; do visit the comments of our nomination post to find out what other books we love.

The Necronomicon is a comprehensive collection of some of Lovecraft's most strange and iconic tales, stories that French author Michel Houellebecq says are "an open slice of howling fear." Lovecraft is one inspiration to China Miéville, whose novel The City and The City we read in 2012. How does Miéville react to Lovecraft's racism? Like Houellebecq, he argues that Lovecraft's racist, virtiginous horror led to the writing's poetic, trancelike quality.

If we read Lovecraft this month, we'll also discuss a remarkable film version of The Call of Cthulhu, which reproduced 1920s film technology to imagine what might have happened if the story had been filmed.

In A Highly Unlikely Scenario, an absurdist fiction by Rachel Cantor, "a customer-service rep for a Pythagorean pizza company must save the world by time traveling and speaking to historical figures through the Neetsa Pizza support line." Writing in the New York Times, Lydia Netzer calls it "a novel about being incredulous and certain at the same time, about listening without judgment, about acting on faith." 

If we pick this book, let's also include a conversation about the bizarre and beautiful Voynich Manuscript, which features prominently in the novel.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. When a seven-year-old boy and his father discover that their stolen car has been used for suicide next to a local pond, the boy cannot fathom that the pond might be an ocean, or that the powerful and mysterious women who live nearby might be more than they seem. 

Reviewers have been enthralled by the ways this novel confronts the terror and wonder of childhood and reading. Gaiman has a special place at @1book140. His novel American Gods was the first book we read. 

Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn, is the story of a biohacking, freak family that starts a circus after they succeed in experimenting with DNA. Terry Gilliam loved it, saying that "it made me ashamed to be so utterly normal." Caitlin Roper's dramatic review of Geek Love in Wired from March offers fantastic background on Dunn's literary career.

If we choose this book, I'll spend the month sharing news from the growing movement of DIY bio-hacking.

Vote For Our July Book

Vote below to choose what to read this month. Voting closes Tuesday July 1st, at noon Eastern. Soon after, I'll announce the results and post a schedule to The Atlantic and our Twitter hashtag, #1book140.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/06/1book140-vote-for-a-weird-fiction-book-to-read-in-july/373614/