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A Greater Monster

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  50 reviews
A psychedelic fairytale for the modern age, A Greater Monster is the mind-bending second novel by the author of the acclaimed Death by Zamboni. This darkly poetic tale takes you on a trip into a radically twisted alternate reality that reflects civilization like a funhouse mirror. Along the way, you'll encounter sphinxes, gods, living skeletons, witches, and quite possibly ...more
perfect, 1st Edition, 369 pages
Published November 10th 2011 by Bedhead Books
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Feb 12, 2013 rated it liked it

basically, what i learned from this book is if you accept drugs from a homeless fellow, you will be subjected to a very long headache.

everyone seems to have looooved this book more than i did. and it's not that it isn't a fun book or an enjoyable book, it really boils down to my values as a reader. i like story. it doesn't bother me if the story is multi-narrative or even fragmented, as long as i have a chance to situate myself. this one is just too frenetic for my poor reader-brain. it is strea
Manuel Antão
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Nerdtastic Fiction: "A Greater Monster" by David David Katzman

”I was having a hard time wrapping my head around...why I was doing what I was doing. And what exactly was I doing? Outlines softened. Surfaces went foggy. What was I supposed to be doing? I was caged in solid smoke, sharp smoke. I saw it settling in, filling the space. A skintight dream with hard corners, corroded metal defined space. I shaped the proportions when I could t
Arthur Graham
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Having recently finished this book a few thousand miles ago, I’m just now finally getting around to writing my review, seated at my favorite Lebanon coffee shop.

I sharpen up the stylus and procure a fresh slab of clay before approaching the counter, mumbling vaguely to the green-eyed, olive-skinned barista behind it, pretending as though we’re not about to spend the next 43 years together. Reaching through seven veils of silken scarves, she hands me a cup of something cool and gravity. I return
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Tell me again, Dr...


Dr. Chu-

Call me Chicken.

MJ Nicholls
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Greater Monster is an audacious, ambitious antinovel that takes the form (at a guess) of a continuous hallucinatory trip through the depths of the imagination. The unities of time are doused with fourteen pints of lexical petroleum. Linearity, plot logic and coherence are torched on the bonfire in favour of language that uses typographical innovation to mimic the helter-skelter loopiness of the unconscious. Language doesn’t escape the sousing—here, wordplay is permitted a little pas de deux be ...more
I hate this book, but that is a good thing.*

There’s no denying David David Katzman (DDK) is a talented writer. He’s no hack. He’s no dilettante fucking around because he thinks he has a good idea that “just needs to be published.” He’s the real deal. A writer’s writer. A writer with teeth and muscle. A writer with the ability to incite. And that’s what he did to me with A Greater Monster.

He incited rage and loathing, but that is a good thing.

He was a Cathead playing with me like the proverbial m
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A Greater Monster is not a novel as much as a state of mind. Reading it is like having a fantastic buzz. AGM is as clear as a window to the soul, and as confusing as brain mapping. It’s right on and slightly off. Black and white and vivid colors. Funny. Pensive. Thought provoking. Radiant and dark. Like reading in a state of half-awake-ness, not reeeeally remembering every beautiful and crazy detail of what's happening, but knowing it’s something strangely important. It's the simple confusion of ...more
Lee Klein
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful independently produced novels I've ever seen -- the cover, the layout, the dozens of black pages showing white-lined stick figures in a sort of simultaneously graceful yet hectic dance maybe? Text spirals, the letter "I" grows and grows to fill the page, there's handwritten text, on and on. Did you like House of Leaves"? Are you a fan of Blake Butler's Three Hundred Million? If so, keep reading. What are your expectations when it comes to novels? Do you like characteriz ...more
David Katzman
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
1/3/12 Was listed as the number one book of "10 Hot Chicago Reads For Chilly Nights" on

12/31/12 Was named a top 10 book of 2012 on The Common Ills blog. According to the post:
"... Beth championed it near weekly in her column for the gina and krista round-robin. It is a jigsaw of writing and you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole. 'A book to ponder and to read for the sheer life on the page,' Beth observed.
12/7/12 A flattering review ap
Jeff Jackson
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was recently at the Strand Bookstore in NYC where a pile of this handsome novel was prominently displayed at the front under the category "Mind Expanding Reads." And I thought, yep, that's it exactly.

It's rare these days that a book's prose wrenches my mind into unexpected shapes, but A GREATER MONSTER is configured to do exactly that. The tome is a marvel of design, from the morphing flow of how the paragraphs and sentences are arrayed on the page to the shifting and fading fonts to the exte
L.S. Popovich
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel marks a stark departure from the author's earlier Death by Zamboni. A free flowing prose poem, a devilish series of intense artistic moments, condensed into interlocking and dividing particles - It can be described in many different ways, and I will exhaust several of those approaches in my review, but there is no substitute for picking up the book and sampling its heady bouquet.

As daring as Tristram Shandy was in its day perhaps, A Greater Monster pushes the boundaries of fiction by
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was the weirdest and most creative book I have ever read. It is more than a book, more like a mind-altering substance. It started off "normal" enough, but that part of the book was very short-lived. Once the main character ingests the anonymous substance given to him by a homeless man, the insanity begins. There was a point in the book soon after in which I felt very lost. As it floated in a stream of consciousness style for the next 70 or so pages, it was very challenging to me. Once the s ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of David David's work. I loved Death by Zamboni and thought it was hilarious. This book is completely different and incredibly creative. I blurbed A Greater Monster, writing “Beautiful mystic-schizo DayGlo wordage. Poetic prose that befuddles, enchants and amuses the reader at the same time.” I think I also wrote something about being like Naked Lunch, minus the sharp odor of penetrated rectums. But, David David cut that part out of the blurb, claiming that the whole "penetrated re ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
The day I started reading A Greater Monster was the day I also entered the beginning stages of a three-day fever, slipping in and out of a halfsleep delirium. It was quite the conducive state of mind for experiencing this book, at least while I was conscious enough to hold it up to my eyes.

Quickly jettisoning from an urban surface world, AGM delves deep into a bleak, nightmarish Bardo-like landscape populated with a wide and curious assortment of hyperspace demigods. Their actions toward the ce
Daniel Clausen
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I sit down to write the review of this book. The slightest bit of blackness on the cover slides off and turns into a black pill…hmmmm….

I avoid eating it, but the book slowly grows legs—does its best Bill Cosby impression before turning into a city politician and attempting to steal my shoes. I didn’t know the book would try to do that. I would look at the warning label on the book, but the book is now off to other pursuits.

The book is now my deadbeat roommate—city politics is light on samba, and
Anita Dalton
Jesus Christ. The best way I can begin this book discussion is to dare every single one of you to buy the book and read it. I add the dare so that your pride forces you to get the book lest you seem the sort person who shies away from a challenge. I need you to feel your honor is at stake. However, it will be a dare you will be glad you took. A Greater Monster is a book you will need to read at least twice, and even then you will be able to pick it up a third, fourth and fifth time and right ar ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Autographed gift copy kindly donated by GR friend Frances Winkler, with the connivance co-operation of the author, the inimitable David David Katzman, also a GR friend.

This book is very difficult to encapsulate in a review. Probably I would have to know a whole lot about medico-philosophico-literary concepts ending in -ism or -opia, or maybe -osis, to do it justice. But here goes.

If you are like me, there are some books you are tempted to buy just because of the cover. The cover on this baby i
Tony McMillen
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Greater Monster Review

A Greater Monster comes at the reader phalanges sputtering and mandibles agape, ready to suck out your spinal marrow and replace it with saltwater taffy and gummy worms. This book will alter your molecular makeup, steal your car and get your cat pregnant before it skips town. All that being said, the second novel from Chicago author David David Katzman is not an easy read. It is not some enjoyable fluff you can knockout in three days reading on your lunch break or on a lo
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Kate by: David David Katzman
What a long stange trip it's been...

To me, this one was more than just a book, it was an intense experience. This one read like prose poetry at it's finest. Full of word play, font experimentation,and even a few elements of bizarro thrown in for fun.

You'll want to read this one slowly because if you don't, you could miss so much. I hope I'm not giving too much away when I say there are phrases within the book that link to websites that enhanced the reading of the book for me even more so than t
Autumn Christian
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Greater Monster was a constant companion to the lonely nights when I found myself drinking too much wine and soaking in the bathtub trying to remember what the hell exactly I was supposed to be doing with my life. It's not an easy read, and reminded me often of the cut-up techniques employed by Burroughs and Kathy Acker.

A man takes drugs from a shady person in an alleyway and his world dissolves into that of a dream, flitting from one scene and world to the next without much reason or context.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
2 words. bath salts. i don't ever plan to find out what it's like being on bath salts, but i would imagine it's not unlike reading A Greater Monster. at the risk of sounding pretentious, or even disingenuous, i won't bore you with a long-winded critique like i'm some reputable name in the literary world that my opinion should matter. that said, Davidx2 captures that WTF feeling without the prose falling apart into formless dissonance. at least, not unintentionally. it has its easter eggs, its qu ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Before starting this review, I hesitated to call it a "book review". Is this a book? An adventure? A trip? A completely new approach to what laymen call "use of the english language"?

I was pulled in so quickly and completely that it took me quite a while to realize that I was reacting on a physical level, as if all of this mystification was overtaking my world, too.

This book could have been a thrilling success even if it stopped at the insanely humorous wordplay. But it didn't--far from it. Th
Rick Harsch
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Greater Monster by David David Katzman
I'm not done with the book yet, but I can't resist beginning a review for this is a work of genius, linguistic genius, written by someone who can obviously do whatever he wants with words. A Greater Monster is listed as or tagged as a work of apocalyptic literature and a work of fantasy--apocalyptic maybe, but fantasy? No--it's surrealism intensely realized. I'll be back when I finish the book.


I came across this in a book today: 'Added to this is the
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of "A Greater Monster" from the author who asked only for an "honest review". Trust me, as I was reading this book holding my head in both hands thinking it's going to any moment brains will be all over the nice clean carpet...I first thought about having to clean it up then considered sending the author the cleaning bill. "Honest Review"...Geez, Mr. Katzman!!! This book is unlike anything I've ever read...and I mean this in a totally good way, fellow bibliophiles, ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Cross The Odyssey, Fear and Loathing in Leaving Las Vegas, Memento, run a Buddhist current through it and you have a pixel of David David Katzman’s A Greater Monster.

Katzman begins his tale in dystopian Chicago where we meet ‘the guy.’ You know ‘the guy.’ He’s got the career, the money, the girls, the mojo, an insufferable sense of entitlement: yeah him. If you were ever curious to see how ‘the guy’ endures tortures of the damned, read A Greater Monster.

DKat (Katzman) voices ‘the guy’s’ self-lo
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Katzman takes the reader on a radical, murderous, colorful, brilliant, roller-coaster-of-a-fucking novel, which kept me moving and hoping, grieving and hurting, and loving the moments when I could drink from the well.

I loved the poetry when Nameless was in the cistern, "surrounded by water, all around me cool water, the end is circular, the end, is circular, I will circulate, around and around and around I will go, I am bending stalks, I am falling leaves, my limbs unfurl, I am done writing, for
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There are many different ways to look at A Greater Monster. There's the obvious analysis: a book about one man's transcendental journey brought about by the use of a psychoactive drug. The novel is certainly enjoyable at that level. To me, there's a lot more too it than that, though. The book is, in many ways, a Katabasis (a journey to the underworld). Early on in his journey, the protagonist meets Charon (who calls himself Ron), implying a descent into Hades. His descent, though, has more to do ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The following can only be explained by reading AGM. TWO WORDS - literary performance art.

DDK kicks ass and MAKES names, and monsters and wild images that invade your mind. Like a little Banksy dude sprayed in the corner of the mind. Permanent but ever changing. AGM dangles like a rotten apple ready to be squeezed, and eaten. Yuck and yum at the same time. Legally bakes the mind into the haze and smoky den of the possibilities of dancing words and parcours falling. Kinda wise and always weird. F
Onrie Kompan
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A GREATER MONSTER redefines the concept of the graphic prose novel.

This story is a psychedelic journey with no limitations and infinite possibilities. David is a master of words and uses them not only to tell his story but to illustrate it as well.

And speaking of illustrations, there is a transition in this book that is brilliantly put together. You can tell just by looking at these transforming illustrations just how much time and effort was put into all of it.

To give away any serious plot deta
Brian Wade
** 2/16 ** just 50pgs into AGM & my brain is awash. Perhaps it's the beers, perhaps it's my wonderful but crazy little ones running around, but most likely it's the book! (Although the beers & my toddler boys accentuate the mood.) AGM is a dive off the deep end. So far very much digging the wordplay and adventurous spirit. Also love the first person, inner dialogue. At this point the pop-culture comparisons that immediately come to mind are 'American Psycho' mixed with 'Memento' (Reader keep in ...more
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