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A Greater Monster

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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 the strangest circus ever imagined. Innovative and astonishing, A Greater Monster breathes new life into the possibilities of fiction.

369 pages, perfect

First published January 15, 2012

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About the author

David David Katzman

3 books446 followers
I'm an obsessive creator, whether it's writing or creating art.

I've opened an Etsy store for psychedelic art: http://j.mp/PsycheArt. Please consider purchasing my first print—a portrait of George Floyd. I'm donating ALL profits from sales to Black Lives Matter: https://bit.ly/HonorFloyd

I've been honored to be selected to have my art at the Baton Rouge Gallery - Center for Contemporary Art for two years running. The show is called Surreal Salon and the judge in 2018 was the brilliant Ron English and in 2019 was the amazing Camille Rose Garcia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
August 19, 2021
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 stream of consciousness AND surreal/bizarro AND stylistically playful with phonetics and fun with fonts AND philosophical battering. and the scene changes and character's mutations all take place in this alice in wonderland world populated by animal-people and the capital-w weird. my poor brain.

i can stomach the bizarro, in small doses, but when i have to read nearly 400 pages of it (although it is oddly-spaced and there are pictures so it is not as daunting as it might sound), my brain just starts to be sad. i don't know where i am and i don't like it.

again - if you like this kid of writing, you will probably dig this - everyone else seems to. and i didn't hate it, it just left me feeling defeated, in the sense of "why doesn't my brain work within this context??"

or as one character says near the end:

"I am weary of this"

"You just aren't creative enough."

which is, i suppose, my curse.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Infinite Jen.
82 reviews242 followers
December 19, 2022

Tell me again, Dr...


Dr. Chu-

Call me Chicken.

Please don’t interrupt, Mr. Chungus. Tell me again why you smuggled a laser, used by militant megafauna interventionists in cardiac ablative procedures performed on, uh, said fauna- it says here... “Under conditions of respiratory distress brought on by the internal contradictions of Capitalism and resulting stagnations.” You brought this, frankly massive, machine for Light Amplification Through Stimulated Emission of Radiation, into the tenth annual interstellar penis puppetry competition and proceeded to utilize said machine of menacing, no, cartoonish, bulk, in the materialization of your murderous intent, by, yes, compromising hull integrity while contestants were making their, ah, members into wristwatches?

A bit of comedic timing, you might say.

Yes, I see here that surviving contestants report hearing someone yell, prior to depressurization. Quote. Half past my ass and a quarter to the balls. Unquote. Am I correct in assuming that was- please stay seated, am I correct in- sir! SIT. THE. FUCK. DOWN. Now. Were you, or were you not, heard punctuating the ambiance of wet packing noises, tinkling cocktail glasses, kibitzing of envious micro-penile penis puppetry aficionados, and light applause, with a kind of horrific shrieking. And, prior to laying into the trigger of the, honestly, almost comically, no, impossibly large, surgical instrument, with a kind of manic glee, no, religious ecstasy... insisting on, no, adamant about, in truth, committed to in sinew and spirit, one might say, being heard, quite frankly, Mr. Chungus, straining the tendons in your neck until they stood out like impressive hamstrings and screaming your ever loving guts out, a rather perfunctory appetizer to your lapidary punchline. Quote. What time is it? Unquote.


And I’m given to understand that you were, in the main, motivated, no, deranged by, unquestionably weaponized due to, some type of psychoactive agent proffered by an up-lifted starfish that was working as a, uh, yes. Quote. Itinerant Hobo of Typographical Enlightenment of The Order of Radially Symmetrical Beings. Unquote. And that this mind rending substance is known as, no, is fretfully whispered about... Mr. Chungus, is frankly, conspiratorially discussed with the kind of nervousness generally reserved for that subset of dogs, around the galaxy, that are now quaking from the shitting peach seeds. This thing is known as-

A Greater Monster.

Yes. AGM. Tell me what you know.

May I ask you a question, Major? It’ll take only a moment. Then I’ll tell you everything.

You may.

Have you ever, while funneling the liquified adrenal gland of a Deathclaw into your dilated gullet, apprehended, in the infinite fractions between moments, the fact that you exist as mere symbols on a screen, perhaps even now being beamed into the photosensitive cells of other beings, who are now decompressing their information, like squiggly beings parachuting into a dense forest of dendritic branches. This massive associative network, finite but unbounded, cushioning their fall, parsing their meaning in ways that are, at once, deeply personal and universal. Shaping us, Major, according to unique neuronal deformations experientially and genetically pruned. How must you and I appear to them deep in their axonal aggravations? What action potentials have lobbied for this gestalt? What signals are reinforced and back-propagated in order to give me a magnificent beard, or you an immaculate pony tail? How must we sound? Why was I trying to stand up? Well, I had no choice in the matter. But they’re free to speculate, and speculate they have. They can’t help it, they’re helpless but to follow the logic, if they’re reading at all. When I cut those holes in the ship it’s because I wanted to see a fully grown being of this squiggly logic extruded through an aperture no more ambitious than the bulk of a coconut. I must tell you, Major. It reminded me of spaghetti o’s. Like this:

Nondescript individuals extruded through portal by mad pastry chef.

Depending on the screen this appears on, this scene will have secondary and tertiary meaning based on higher level rules of geometrical organization. Do you see?

I’m afraid I don’t follow Dr. Chungus. Wha-

Of course, you CAN’T see it. You’ll have to read the book first. Then it will all make sense. Or, rather, no sense. But, make no mistake, it is a precondition of our rapport, Major, that you find my copy of A Greater Monster and sedulously integrate with its contents.

Is it a work of propaganda?

It’s like a sweaty psychedelic toad shedding perfect drops of multi-disciplinary intelligence and imagination that you can’t help but scour clean with that blind, pink, oropharyngeal monster trashing around in its cave of teeth. It is perhaps the best encapsulation of what it feels like to take a trip to nyquillama. To tip your inflatable raft into a river of warm chocolate milk and find yourself in the presence of a vicious trippopatamus. DDK flays concentric layers of cerebral tissue with the playfulness of an engineer. Revealing something of how the conceptual sausage is made. Furthering ones appreciation for the powers of fiction, and the future of its forms in all their experimental profusion. It cuffs the constabulary of rigid sense making about the ears and invites a multilevel participation in this act of literary madness. It is, in short, quite a trip.

The Major, as if under the compulsion of an unseen force projects here composite presence off the light emitting diodes of various screens and utters (but doesn’t really, it’s all in your subvocalization), as if she has no other choice: David is a heck of a writer, and if you have any interest in bizarro/weird/experimental books, I encourage you to tongue these pages vigorously.
Profile Image for Arthur Graham.
Author 70 books646 followers
May 28, 2016
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 to my seat on the Brooklyn side of the establishment, sipping heavy froth.

As I sit down to write this, my mind starts to wander up my own ass, but luckily I’m able to reel it back out before it reaches the sigmoid colon. Wiping off the strange, spherical object in its grip, I pop my mind back into my head and set its prize on the table beside me.

“I’m gonna call you Ted,” I say, patting it affectionately before returning to my tablet.

Eleven minutes and three lines later, I glance over to see how Ted’s doing. He’s grown a pair of ruby red lips and a shock of wild, black hair on top of his fat, white head, giving him the distinct appearance of an aging Robert Smith.

“What are you doing, man,” he says.

“Well,” I reply, “I’m trying to write this book review, but I keep getting distracted by stuff.”

“That’s no way to write a review.”

“I know, man, fuck....”

I haven’t been this flustered since the KKK (Korruptedest Kanadian Kleptocracy) stole my hard-earned tax dollars to purchase bargain-bin DIY abortion kits for all the Puerto Rican girls in New Jersey. Oh well, I guess it’s back to the Essex County sperm bank for all parties involved.

Outside, the street looks suspiciously like my bath mat. Naked frogs in shower caps parade past the window in a line that wraps around the block, waiting their turns to bathe. One of them catches my eye and taps her back-scrubber against the glass pane, trailing a long, prismatic smear of translucent eggs and pond scum across its surface.

Well, that makes sense at least, I think to myself.

Moral of the story – If a homeless man offers you a lump of black tar, it’s probably not hash, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it anyway.

More from D.D. Katzman:

Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,009 reviews4,008 followers
November 7, 2012
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 before Katzman violently beats his words around the cursives with sticks. Starting in the past then switching into the future tense, the novel puts all its faith in the rhythmical wave of words: sentences are clipped and speedy, frantic and free. The image-driven and action-led surrealism is unrelenting and will test or polarise the readership.

To what extent the typographical stunts are entirely relevant to the Greater Aesthetic Purpose, or exist merely in and of themselves, is up for debate. But the range of artful deviations on here is delightful: snaking and spiralling sentences, first person pronouns exploding in your face, hands and busts reaching out the page, all sorts of kerning and spacing shenanigans, plus, most impressively, 75pp of beautiful black-paper illustrations. Katzman’s commitment to the book as both an evolver of language and a work of visual art shines through. Although A Greater Monster (it seems) wants to be read linearly, it opens itself to random reading and the reader’s immersion in the delicious word-waves. Perfect for those seeking their next blast of brain-stretching oddness and loving wordbendery.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,686 followers
February 6, 2012
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 mouse (or a dog who refuses to masturbate) before killing me and eating me. His font games and wordplay were sadistic. His incessant twisting of homonyms and homophones was unbearable. Torturous is not an understatement. I wanted nothing more than for this book to end. I needed to be free of the trail of gunpowder he’d lit like a nasty, hallucinogenic Bugs Bunny. But all that’s good too.

It’s a good thing because there’s an audience out there begging for A Greater Monster – needing A Greater Monster. I may not be part of that audience, but they exist. I even know a few of them. And they will read this book on my recommendation and be incited to raptures and ecstasies, and they will rank it amongst their favourites ever. DDK is a voice for those of the urban subterrain; he is the voice of the edges and cracks and perforations of asphalt and post-industrial cubicles. People need DDK writing for them and to them and at them.

And he deserves to be read. Not just his brilliantly funny Death by Zamboni but this ugly, perverse, fomenting treatise of hyperreality called A Greater Monster. All DDK’s works deserve to be read.

I want him to be read. I want you to read him, whatever your feelings might be when you’re through. Read him. Love him. Hate him. Read this. Love this. Hate this. But don’t walk away from this book untouched, unaffected. Love A Greater Monster or hate A Greater Monster or love and hate A Greater Monster, but don’t put it down with an indifferent shrug. If you do that, the failure is yours.
This book is extreme, so too should be your response, whichever direction it takes.

I hate this book. Almost as much as I love DDK. So when I get around to offering an upper level course in Bizarro fiction, this book will be the first on the required reading list. I hate this book, but I don’t have to like it to recognize its merit.
*it has always been my policy to rate books based on how I feel about them rather than their "merit."
Profile Image for Nefariousbig.
121 reviews109 followers
August 25, 2015
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 a hangover, just not as painful. Like a slow-motion/hyper-motion dream, when you try to see but just can't focus on one thing because the experience is too much to absorb all at once. Waiting patiently and impatiently, struggling with your SELF. Waiting...waiting...waiting...for nothing and for everything, all at the same time. Like Waiting for Godot.

I found it interesting that the main character in AGM has no name. Like someone you met once, but don’t really know. Someone you will never know, but somehow someone you should know, someone you have ALWAYS known. I turned back pages to look for his name because it seemed like I missed something, like his name. What's in a name? What IS a name? As the story grows, the main character is neither male nor female, big or little, human or animal. No name or title or descriptor does the character justice. It is SELF . A nameless. A me. Only. SELF .

SELF was constantly changing from puppetier to puppet, moving in and out of SELF. Finding things SELF wasn’t searching for, something SELF had lost without realizing. Not lost in a dream, rather something lost inside SELF. A thing. A secret. The dark closet of SELFNESS. Memories. Me-more-ezzy.

PAY ATTENTION and DO NOT miss references to associated links. The bone pounding drums are hard and heavy, heavenly and hot, like ice cubes on fever. The pounding left me breathless, panting, wanting more, holding SELF, shaking SELF, then exhaling firey pieces from inside (my) SELF. The radical “emotional orchestra” is the perfect state-of-mind visual companion, and floats you through wave after crashing wave of story. Caitlin Drake McKay’s beautiful design contribution takes you visually through a circus performance that is emotionally sensual and sad, but sad in a way that makes you cry when it's over, and smile at the memory. There are many wonderously weird, scary, strange, weirdly odd, weird, sexy, weird (did I say weird?), anomalous characters that guide you through to the end of the journey.

Mr. Katzman uses creative typesetting to challenge the reader to see, not only what is being said, and to feel what is happening, rather what is NOT. Imagine a Yellow Brick Road laid with words and letters and formatting, built vertically toward something higher than you. The white space is poetry.

Space Less
Time Less thinks

A Greater Monster is not a novel, it’s an adventure, it’s a state of mind. It's a beautiful trip SELF must take in order to come back home.
Profile Image for Lee Klein .
794 reviews838 followers
May 30, 2017
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 characterization and coherence? Do you like to at least kinda like your narrator? Do you like to know WTF is going on? If so, proceed with extreme caution. (If you answered "nah" to all/most of these questions, you're in luck.) In general, for me, this is one of those beautiful flowers that entice and attract unsuspecting little reading bees but once inside the origami swirls of the petals/pages, a fight/flight mechanism kicks in, they're repelled yet drawn in, want to escape but push ahead, stuck to the surfaces, curious, determining how much orientation obliteration can be handled before a fatal sense of obfuscation sets in, how long little reader bees like me can concentrate before zoning out and picking up their phone or something where the words don't run in the opposite direction of their attention. In a message through this site when we exchanged novels (note the "potential conflict of interest" tag), the author mentioned something about wanting to try to depict the psychedelic experience, which seemed to me like such a difficult thing to do, something maybe Jodorowsky did in film and so many bands have done well in music. In my experience, the winner for best depiction of the psychedelic experience, other than Hendrix's "1983: A Merman I Shall Turn To Be," are probably two albums by Talk Talk, "Laughing Stock" and "Spirit of Eden," more so than all those "far out" psych "nuggets" from the late-'60s. When I think about what such experiences felt like long ago when I was half my current age, I'm happy to report that they never approached anything like this novel, in very large part because I never took anything like 500 hits of DMT infused into a single lozenge scored off a homeless guy. I do like how exaggerated the experience is, how awful the narrator is early on, sexist and self-aggrandizing etc, and how the icky formation of his ego is blown to a few hundred pages of smithereens/bits (if the narrator comes down toward the end intact, looking forward to the clarity of a gentle new dawn, I didn't quite register the reformation or a return in general to anything approximating formal convention). Regarding the all-important provision of "stars," I've given it five as I do all "potential conflict of interest" books but I also love this one's looks and respect the audacity of the experiment and the author's complete/total commitment to its execution.
Profile Image for David Katzman.
Author 3 books446 followers
January 9, 2013
1/3/12 Was listed as the number one book of "10 Hot Chicago Reads For Chilly Nights" on Refinery29.com: http://www.refinery29.com/new-books

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 appeared in The Chicagoist for A Greater Monster. Some highlights:
"This is a psychedelic-Burroughs-dream and an aggravated-Lewis-Carroll-nightmare, a world in which we must continuously re-adjust our bearings....The brilliance of his imagination aside, we must also consider that this novel is a lot to absorb....Yes, the novel is difficult to read at times. Yes, you will have to read certain passages more than once and often read them in various ways. Of course, your face will start to hurt from the perplexed look you'll be wearing over the duration of the book. However, you will be refreshed with new characters and situations every few pages--all of which will be other-worldly. You will stumble onto sparks, which will snowball into a catharsis more than once. Most of all, you will be challenged as both a reader and a thinker. If the pros outweigh the cons for you, then David David Katzman might just be your new favorite author."
5/27/12 Received a thoughtful review in the Psychedelic Press UK here: http://fb.me/1L1NL4ebJ The reviewer says:
"The book’s blurb describes it as 'Innovative and astonishing… [breathing] new life into the possibilities of fiction' and, without doubt, the novel lives up to this description: A psychedelic journey into the splintered mind of a life on the desiring edge."
5/1/12 A Greater Monster has won a Gold Medal as an "Outstanding Book of the Year" in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. So say the awards: "These medalists were chosen from our regular entries for having the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society." There were only 10 winners in different categories out of 5000 entries. The judges of the competition sent me the following review quotes from their evaluation:
"Imaginative, explosive and poetic. A real trip!"
"A brain-singeing look at humanity at its strangest."
"Dark and edgy, like a Blade Runner for English majors."
1/27/12 - Another lovely review, this one from from Reader Views critic Paige Lovitt. Full review is here. Last paragraph reads:
Intelligently written and displayed, A Greater Monster is truly like no book I have ever read before. While visions of Alice in Wonderland strayed through the back of my thoughts, this book is so much more. I admire David David Katzman’s creativity and the amount of work that must have gone into creating such an exotic literary gift for readers who like to read beyond the lines of contemporary fiction.
Received a review from Midwest Book Review. Here are the highlights:
[When] we see something unusual, we rarely expect it to be the tip of the iceberg. A Greater Monster is a novel from David David Katzman who brings readers into a unique alternate reality that has many twists and turns ... With unique humor and plenty to think about, A Greater Monster is a fine and much recommended choice.
Several writers were kind enough to read my book in manuscript form before its release. They had the following to say:

“Brilliant, insane and utterly unique, A Greater Monster offers pure sensory stimulation, verging on sensory overload. The graphics, concept and narration are pause-worthy, and they all combine to create literary indulgence at its best—its most interactive. The narrator in A Greater Monster doesn’t hold your hand and guide you; he doesn’t ask you to like him. Instead, he delivers a sharp uppercut to your chin and asks you to stop cowering, open your eyes, and fight back. You will. He’ll make you.”—Jen Knox, author of To Begin Again (2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award winner)

“Beautiful mystic-schizo DayGlo wordage. Poetic prose that befuddles, enchants, and amuses the reader at the same time.”—Lance Carbuncle, author of Grundish Askew

“This is bizarro fiction at its most intense. It contains scenes and unique designs that seem engineered by some Mad Hatter and Chuck Palahniuk cross-breed.”—Lavinia Ludlow, author of alt.punk

“After David David Katzman’s brilliant first novel, Death by Zamboni, a masterclass in the uses to which comic writing can be put, comes a novel that couldn’t be more different. A Greater Monster opens in a world that’s immediately and recognizably ours … before spinning off into a spiritual (and carnal) quest that reads like Alice on acid, while channeling every trash sci-fi nightmare Creepy Tales had to offer.”—Charles Lambert, author of Scent of Cinnamon and Any Human Face

A Greater Monster is a highly creative and original story combining poetry, imagery, and prose—all working seamlessly without a break in momentum.”—Charlie Courtland, author of Dandelions in the Garden

“I can’t express how brilliant my favorite scenes in A Greater Monster are. In this extraordinary work, Katzman pushes language to do things, which are truly astounding. This is where Artaud meets Williams S. Burroughs meets Lewis Carroll in an obscene, violent dissolution of character, plot, and setting. A Greater Monster dismantles the foundations of narrative, of the human subject as master and center of time and space, reason and language, and the word is transformed into image, into an indigestible thing that both resists easy consumption and is utterly entertaining.”—Carra Stratton, Editor Starcherone Press
Profile Image for Jeff Jackson.
Author 4 books466 followers
November 25, 2013
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 extended sequence of pure illustration. It's a gorgeous physical object that I can't imagine wanting to experience as a digital file.

But all that design is at the service of the sentences, which swirl and switchback as they hurtle you through a surreal narrative that keeps severing its hold on so-called reality. This is a book that you pick up when you're ready to surf through a mindspace of poetic mysticism, gritty humor, and sci-fi visions. Which is really just scratching the surface because if anything the book is about constantly giving you more.

I don't generally give too much import to blurbs, but this one from poet Jennifer Knox resonated loudly for me: "Brilliant, insane, and utterly unique, A Greater Monster offers pure sensory stimulation verging on sensory overload. The graphics, concept, and narration are pause-worthy and they combine to create literary indulgence at its best - its most interactive. The narrator doesn't hold your hand and guide you; he doesn't ask you to like him. Instead, he delivers a sharp uppercut to your chin and asks you to stop cowering, open your eyes, and fight back. You will. He'll make you."
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books315 followers
February 13, 2020
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 inventing spelling, formatting, and grammatical conventions to suit the ideas and augment the imaginative landscape on display. Remove the textual innovation and you would have a pointillist rendering of a mind, of a state of mind, and in a way, with the atemporal exploration it undertakes, that is enough. Add the rollicking, galloping linguistic deviations back in and you have a new stratum of complexity. The reading experience becomes a multiple choice test where you must, each and every moment, decide whether you like what you see. There will probably be some yeses and nos, as with any book, but there will also be more flip-flopping, see-sawing, and more decisions on your part that you ever expected.

Give the book time to grow on you. Like a Siamese twin, appearing during adolescence or middle age, suddenly, unexpectedly, your new best friend, but somehow disconcerting... Should you embrace it? Question it?

Get comfortable with the unexpected. This novel is an examination of the inner animal in man. The persuasive otherness of inanimate objects. At least, that's one of my many takes on it. Form your mind around its ungraspable shape, if you can.

Shambalic yet controlled. Entropic, almost. Observe the power of words, which take on an amoebic life in the human mind. Some reappear, others fail to show up after having bought a ticket. Words are a currency of exchange, ideas are the products, and within the bazaar between the covers you will be forced to barter for otherworldly beasts and inhuman forms. Imagination is required, check your hat at the door, as you might lose the top of your head, on account of your brain somehow slithering out - but that's just wild speculation on my part. I think my brain is still there. At least I can feel something in the cavity. Thanks to the amorphous quality of the reading experience, I'm seeing flashbacks to the surreal panorama, with every tickling set-piece secreted onto the page, enough alarming precocity to fluster the complacent among us, until the anomalous incantations build into a memorable unease.

In short, the fractal proliferation of ideation, the extension of the text into alternate dimensions, really worked its way in, took up residence, got comfortable, and then started haunting the corridors of my thoughts. Made me want to write something unbounded, limitless, and psychedelic. Hence this review. Probably.

Utterly startling lines I didn't even have to write down. (They were graffitoed on the interior of my skull: "Glazed with the mists of Elysium," and "the sprite striding through dew."
The text assaults the senses in every possible way, I've found. I also remember two very intriguing portmanteaus: "Breathvoid." and "Drummoning." I suspect there were more, thought my eyeballs might have been cowering as they passed by.

The dissociation of environments into psychic backdrops causes reality to melt upon the page. The author's gymnastic prose is like the clashing of cymbals, within which cacophony, with some acclimatization, you can hear subtle tonalities, and finally, complex rhythms. Nightmarish indulgence, vivid hallucinogenic pain and pleasure, thought and form, reflective perceptions - it's all in there. An interesting discussion of mythology I will have to reread, and subtle hints at an underlying mythos. Memory's persistence and deception excuses our perceptive but unhelpful narrator. Memory and whatever he took in the first part of the book, I'm guessing...

Luckily, the book unfolds in a dreamlike diorama. I did not feel rushed. One can sort of luxuriate in the boiling tarpit of brain waves. It is, at bottom, a well-paced adventure and a Lovecraftian quest, mixing the tangible and the intangible, the weird and the uncanny. I recall what was one of my favorite two-word combinations of all time occurring. That is: "GORMLESS SLEEP."

That one took me back. It's even better in context. I feel the need to use it somewhere now. Like on a bathroom stall.

By turns bizarre, grotesque, absurd, emotional, exotic, but always interesting and cutting edge, the
permutations of visions, the ersatz realities layering one another, the reincarnation of form and motif, palimpsest, and the vanishings that linger mysteriously, all lead up to an impressive whole.

The cameo of "Kaliban" was appreciated. The improvisational, aggressive prose provides the requisite variety. The parade of chimerical creatures, the symbolic manifestations, and the march of madness through a kaleidoscopic consciousness, all afford a sense of deep scrutiny of the human as a metaphysical entity. Spells and metamorphoses, candid, lurid storms of images, a playful, haphazard, glorious circus of monstrosities - and there's more... A playground for the id, a shifting canvas, an anamorphic eye, a twisted helix of form and ever-immersive delusion, torrents of humor, melancholy and misapprehension, isolationism, profound escapism... I could go on... Helicoptering doom, the manic, systematic unraveling of feverish, polyping concepts. After reading it, you might start to sound like this too...

But again, you have to actually read the book. The reviews can't do it justice - as amusing as most of them are.

The Greater Monster is a place where solitary ideas live out staged existences, under a hypnogogic spotlight, under the etheric illumination of a brilliant artist. While reading this book I couldn't stop thinking about the scene from Eraserhead famously referred to as "Dance of the Radiator Girl." Within the film it stands out as a puzzling mystery, but upon reflection it will likely haunt you to your dying day.
Profile Image for W.D. Clarke.
Author 3 books251 followers
June 26, 2021
Throughout my lengthy pilgrimage through this book I have been nagged by a constant feeling of inadequacy, as if I am not qualified or at least equipped to read it: my readerly brain just not getting, again and again, the writerly tour de force that A Greater Monster certainly is. For this is a book that knows what it wants to do, then sets out to do just that, displaying a remarkable sense of self-coherence (a fully imagined, bizzarre-is-not-the-adjective netherworld for our Virgil to not so much guide as shove us through), remorseless precision (the manifold phantasms manifest themselves with extreme specificity and 'realism'), and unerring confidence (as poet Richard Hugo writes in The Triggering Town, the reader does not need to know why "That silo, [is] filled with chorus girls and grain…", because by pointing at that specific silo, and not some generic one, we readers gain confidence that the poet, at least, knows where we are, and that is all we need to continue our journey with them).
That silo, filled with chorus girls and grain
burned down last night and grew back tall.
The grain escaped to the river. The girls ran
crying to the moon.
I'll go with those girls any day, just as I'd follow David Katzman's muse anywhere. Just don't ask me to provide a coherent report on the journey when/if I return.

Some highlights:
…pustular skin like over-boiled cauliflower…

Ron’s voice is a rickety old shack I’m scared to enter.

Life is like a game of … whudyacallit? You put the thing in the thing, and you twiddle it? And you could die or not die. Right? That’s life.

His face will be handsome to the point of blandness, like a computer’s idea of beauty.

A ’n A was a full-on hunane. Cruel and selfish—self-hatred infused from the environment. Sickened senses—feelings pulled along by the torrents of culture. Alien. No perspective to see that the avatar is paper-thin—a tissue mask draped over being. A vague passenger on a meaningless journey of habit, isolated and separated from living. Memory paints the illusion of depth—the hunane is even willing to think of itself as bad because then at least incomprehensibility drives it, a secret within, a soul; when in fact, there is no soul, only the present and the past clinging to it like a petulant child.

…feeling folded up inside, a blanket in wartime.

Bishop Berkeley, anyone?
“All things change, don’t they? Good and bad. That is nature. That’s why nothing truly exists. Things are merely ideas. And a book … a book is a special idea. A mental form that merely appears solid. Thoughts. Ideas are nowhere. Where do they live? They exist, and they don’t exist. Intangible things have so much power. Books were once worshipped.”

…the stone beneath my feet slaps like a jilted lover—

Maybe they succeeded in their desire to be one with objects.

Turn ’em out and turn ’em into animals. Food to be hunted. Higher intellect merely allowed them to distance themselves. Rationalize the selfishness. And the lower intellect, the instincts they supposedly outgrew gave the driving force. The whole house of cages was built on that.”

I have been called centimental before because I am one hundred times crazy with love…

I can’t not help wanting to make sense of things. Anything. To make things better. I need a solid … ground to hold on to. I remember living some other life. All I can remember of it is a vague sense of unease, a haze of anxiety. Brief moments cut out that happened around me, sketches of faces and things that don’t make sense. It was all fuzzy back then, and now … memories are more fuzzy. Words make sense when I hear them, but I can’t dredge up an understanding of why they mean anything.

…this net of words is but a poor player strutting on the stage of the mind, a wisp of wind in a hurricane, a halfhearted gesture in a field of being (like a flower with pollen every shade of yellow tilting from the onset of orange at the tips to the palest of cameo at the center), an illimitable ocean of consciousness dwindled down to a droplet as it dashes from word to word~de(to)spite all that I write for the twig of pleasure.

Consciousness is where all the sadness lies.

“If this is a dream, then I’m just talking to myself.” “We only talk to ourselves.” “Everything is wrong here.” “Isn’t it wrong everywhere?” “I never wanted to come here. I never wanted to leave.”

Profile Image for Rodney.
Author 5 books63 followers
August 18, 2018
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 snow queen appeared, I felt it begin to come together a bit more. From then on, I caught some of the bigger things going on under the surface and the story became more grounded. There is just so much going on in the book that it was hard to keep my mind around it, numerous philosophical leanings and negative aspects of our consumerist nature to name just a few. I will not pretend that I fully understood all parts of this book. I would like to eventually reread it, as I am sure I will grasp much more the 2nd time around. Although it is a lot to handle, this is a beautiful book, perhaps better described as a work of art, both in the layout and the language used to convey the story. I recommend it to any who are willing to step far outside of what they are used to reading.
Profile Image for Lance.
Author 6 books500 followers
April 24, 2012
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 rectum" thing might not be a big seller. I guess that I can't blame him and I should probably delete what I just wrote. Unfortunately, I was too cheap to buy a laptop with a delete button and what I write has to stay put. Anyway, Mr. Katzman is very talented writer that has shown great range with his first two books. I look forward to more from him. Check his stuff out. He is an example of what is so good about independent publishing.
Profile Image for Daniel Clausen.
Author 10 books455 followers
October 5, 2012
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 besides, he shrugs and explains lamely.

It’s the future now, and owe what a future is shall be—or maybe it’s not. It’s hard to tell if waking up after 3 pm constitutes “the future.”

The book looks less like trippy surrealist art and more like accounting...

In offices somewhere boring people talk about sphinxes rolling around in space helmets and riding across rivers on the tips of penises as if they were compact cars with low gas mileage (riding around on giant penises is actually the “greenest” method of travel in the future—at least according to my new accounting book).

Writing books like A Greater Monster is an utterly practical pursuit in this past 3 pm future. I try to formulate eclectic word bombast, but instead end up writing an editorial to Christian Science Monitor that argues for greater oatmeal consumption. My mom shakes her head in worry—“If you can’t write eclectic, electrifying prose, how will you eat? No accounting firm will want you.”

I do what all rebels do in the future…go to business school. Book called Greater Monster, having long given up his quest to be my roommate and/ or be a city politician, follows me to business school. It won’t be like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, he explains. Mostly, you just wear a suit and spend the day trying to avoid getting stuff on your tie.

And that’s how you become a rebel in the future.

But I digress…

The gummy black pill, eEye, Sasha—these things—these very potentially real things: constant surveillance, lost love, addiction…they matter the way business school matters, I try to explain to the book.

It’s at this point that he points out I have mustard on my tie…at this rate I’ll fail out very soon.

The bottom line: it’s like modern art, I yell, like a lazy teenager with turrets.

Try again, the book says, I think you mean it’s like contemporary post-modern art.

Modern, contemporary, post-modern, whichever happens in the far off future of past 3 pm.

I try again. Bottom line: Its like Logan’s Run meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Catchy, the book says, and definitely something I can sell to a movie executive. He goes to the closet and shows me a tied up Michael York. Just in case, he explains.

Book named Greater Monster is in a very practical mood today.

I say so—Book named Greater Monster, you’re in a highly practical mood today.

He responds by pointing to my tie and I find that I have chocolate on it now (in addition to the mustard).

At this rate, I’ll never graduate from business school.

Wrap it up, he suggests.

I smile, clean off my tie, untie Michael York, get on the podium and proclaim: This is an age old story—man works at cybertech security company, man takes strange tar-like drug, man becomes lizard in space suit in surrealistic world; book with lizardman in it makes me go to business school, Michael York still in perfect health despite being tied up in closet for a while, the far off future of after 3pm not so bad.

I smile, book named Greater Monster smiles, book review comes to happy conclusion.
Thank you, Michael York.

Five stars! And no, I’m not in business school…yet.
Profile Image for tim.
66 reviews62 followers
December 7, 2011
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 central character range a full spectrum of intentions, some harmful, others ambivalent, a few helpful. No matter how alien this world may seem, it is also still recognizably our own, in some form. Threaded throughout is an unspoken warning against the careless degradation of our planet’s life-sustaining environment.

The salvation/solution to this possible future state comes in the form of ego dissolution, creating an undercurrent of anxiety at first, but in the end proving to be the price paid for achieving unlimited creative freedom. As crazy as AGM comes across on some levels, it is at the same time a very sane book. The writing is highly experimental and full of wordplay. And at the core of it all seems to be a serious treatise on time. Neither denying its validity, nor accepting it at face value, AGM attacks, dissects, and pulls apart time, testing to see if it actually even exists. Whether or not it succeeds at finally unmasking time’s true nature, the courageous attempt to do so is a worthy endeavor.
Profile Image for Anita Dalton.
Author 2 books158 followers
September 3, 2013
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 around page 40 you will feel like you are reading a new book again. Given that this book has 367 pages, that’s a bargain. In a sense, you will get a new book every time you read it. So really, it’s an economical dare.

The best way to describe the book is to call it experimental fiction because after the first 40 pages or so, it defies any traditional narrative. It’s a drug trip that has a beginning of sorts but no real end. The protagonist slides from one hallucinogenic experience to another, each itself having no beginning and no real end. It’s disorienting and peculiar. But at the end it is a religious experience for the protagonist, a deeply personal descent into the unreal and irreal that make it almost alienating to read. The protagonist wants this trip into a world that has no meaning – if he doesn’t experience real meaninglessness, his life will become even more meaningless. And each trip he experiences means only to me what I assign to it because there is no meaning once the trips begin. Only experience. A nauseating but ordered beginning turns into the protagonist careening in unordered experiences.

I had to read this book in a manner similar to the way I read House of Leaves. The first time I read it in bits and pieces. It’s a dense text and, without any linearity of plot, I don’t recommend reading through it in one attempt the first time you read it. I honestly don’t know if the book would do you any good reading it all at once. It would be like experiencing someone else’s delusions. Before my senior year of high school, I developed pneumonia and had such a high fever I began to hallucinate. My mother found me in the hallway, waiting in line to go to the bathroom. Evidently I was convinced Chinese laborers were using the house as a rooming house and we all shared the same toilet. I could see odors as colors and felt sure there were cows hiding in my room, producing methane gas that manifested as the color orange. Small blue people ran across my bedsheets, warning me I needed to sit up or I would die. My books spoke in foreign languages, the mirrors showed me unseen rooms in the house, and when I later told all of this to the doctor, he flat out did not believe me. My mother told him, with no small amount of anger, that all of that had happened and I still don’t think he believed us.

I hallucinate now with very low fevers and most medical personnel give me the side eye when I report it. I seldom say anything anymore. I’ve had a couple of nurses tell me they do the same thing but mostly I know I am not believed. I used to be offended by it but now I know better. The fever dreams and hallucinations of one man can never really resonate with others unless they, by chance, had the same fevered dream, the same tendency to hallucinate, the same peculiar mindset. That sort of cross-over seldom happens. And that’s why you need to read this book in little bits at first. Otherwise the protagonist’s experiences will become too much as you try to make sense of them. In smaller bits you won’t try to find the common thread, the element that links all these stories together. There may be one but because this is not my hallucination, my drug trip, my terrible fever, the thread is elusive at best.

You can read my entire discussion here.
Profile Image for Richard.
Author 4 books427 followers
February 24, 2019
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 is just mesmerizing, with its image of a disembodied head. It's how I imagine an artist inspired by the Beatles would portray the head of the Buddha. But, as I noted above, I did not have to purchase this psychedelically packaged tome.

The narrator, after a chance meeting with a street person, walks away with a small gift which will soon change his life. "That plot device is as old as Jack and the Beanstalk!" you expostulate scornfully. Perhaps, but that's approximately where this book parts ways with traditional literature. How to describe what happens next? A mere plot summary would not suffice, because no sooner does the plot get underway than it is pinched and squeezed until it explodes like a pimple tube of toothpaste and splatters all over the place.

Characters resembling the creations of H.G. Wells' Dr. Moreau waft in and out of the tale, befriending, advising, ignoring and sometimes pursuing the confused narrator. He himself morphs now and again, and even seems to inhabit the skins of a few other characters. He tries to make sense of a plane which, like the alternate worlds created by Lewis Carroll or Neil Gaiman, operates by its own inner logic; said logic is taken for granted by insiders and bewildering to outsiders.

Through the misadventures of his long-suffering protagonist, David David Katzmann explores the basic themes of love, memory, history, self-determination, communication and meaning. And in doing so, he experiments with words, fonts, forms, conventions and illustrations in very original and not soon to be forgotten ways.
Profile Image for Autumn Christian.
Author 15 books304 followers
April 15, 2014
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. And just like in a dream, often the transitions leave the reader bewildered and adrift. I read it as an emotional journey, where reality loses context and all that's left is the feelings that are burned behind.
Profile Image for Tony McMillen.
Author 14 books44 followers
July 5, 2012
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 long train ride home.

This is not a leisurely story. In fact, it is less a traditional story and more of a philosophical and spiritual exegesis of modern values. In particular the value of real empathy and its staggering lack thereof in our lives. There is a story here but it is simply a starting off point for the further and weirder internal expedition ahead for the novel’s protagonist. His narrative begins with him as a typical self-absorbed, bordering on misanthropic white-collar worker in a sales office. Our main character gets through the day-to-day drudgery by putting in over time and indulging in somewhat humorous contempt for himself and anyone else he encounters. He encounters a homeless man who offers him a black lozenge and upon swallowing it, an act the protagonist himself doesn’t truly understand, his mind begins to disassemble and we begin our ride. Which is an impressive one at that.

Much of the rest of the novel is devoted to this labyrinthine undulating dreamscape and its often insane and hilarious denizens. The protagonist becomes some new world’s Dante making his way through Technicolor cantos in a pop art inferno. Reoccurring themes are the animals and devices, basically anything we encounter on our journey, being rendered in an anthropomorphic lens. Another idea that keeps bubbling to the surface is that of change or evolution. The main character himself is perpetually in a state of flux whether it be the suits or helmets he cloaks himself in or the way he tells his story. Not only is the main character and the increasingly bizarre environments he finds himself in always shifting, so is the style of the book itself.

We begin in 1st person but soon enough we have chapters telling us what we’re doing and what we see in 2nd person. There are portions told in 3rd person as well. But even more interesting are the large sections of the book told in manners that break away all together from traditional narrative structures. Parts where the single letter “I” fills up the entire page and continues to be the only word in smaller and larger sizes on subsequent pages. Parts where we’re offered scattershot poetry with nightmare cartoon imagery and little else in way of storytelling. These are challenging sections but often rewarding once you give in to the book and the way it wants to present information to you. One thing A Greater Monster really succeeds in is displaying how fractured a mind under the influence of either strong psychotropics or the undertow of a fertile dream state can be. By the time our character reaches the circus, one of the more enduring portions of the trip, there are parts of this book told entirely in wordless illustration and there are links to websites with music created just for this novel.

Luckily Katzman has a strong enough voice as a writer that none of this comes off as gimmicky. He sets the tone at the beginning right away before we leave the earth that this novel will be about empathy and how we relate to others. With these seeds sown all the dizzying transmogrifications of style the novel attempts and all the freak-out scenes the novel depicts are grounded as one big allegorical conceit for the main character and hopefully the reader’s burgeoning sense of empathy, compassion and maybe even singularity with all the rest of existence. That is not to say that the novel can’t be exhausting.

As previously stated, this is not an easy read. Meaning that you can’t casually plow through this in a week while lounging by the pool, nor should you. Katzman’s wordplay is deft and bent and easily the star of the show and you have to read slowly sometimes, even re-read to really let it sink its fangs in. There’s some sort of dilapidated alchemy being conjured on these pages. Everything appears broken or busted apart yet kept in check with an invisible harmony. If you’re in band and are looking for a name just open up any random page in A Greater Monster and you will find at least 4 sentences which contain more than serviceable word combinations. If it worked for Steely Dan and Burroughs it can work for you and Katzman. Katzman reads like William S. Burroughs by way of Maurice Sendak. Which means less transcendental buggery and even more between the lines morale smuggling. For the most part it works in fact the only time it really doesn’t work is when you try to read A Greater Monster like any other book you’ve read before.

You can’t sit down and consume A Greater Monster. There’s just too much to process on every page for you to Kobayashi this thing. Savor this book, swish it over your teeth, let it dance across your tongue before you take your next sip. It’s like a Mars Volta or King Crimson album, take a little break before you flip over to side two, trust me you’ll need it.
Profile Image for Kate.
349 reviews83 followers
January 11, 2012
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 the wonderful artwork that was squashed between the text of the book.

Seriously, I really loved everything about this book - from feeling high, to the magnificent art work, to the beautifully crafted language, to being sad when the journey was over. I can see why it took David David Katzman 7 years to write this one because there's so many levels to explore once you fall down the rabbit hole.

Profile Image for Jill.
14 reviews
August 8, 2012
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. The visual stimulation. The adrenaline rush-inducing content. The persistent state of confusion at what the F*** was going on at every point. It all added up to a perfectly orchestrated collection of mind-blowing, hair-raising, predictability destroying streams of mesmerism.

The bad news? Just try picking up a "book" after this and not feeling intense disappointment that it merely has words on a page that comprise a story.
Profile Image for Rick Harsch.
Author 17 books187 followers
July 16, 2018
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 knowledge we unconsciously take to the streets: to Heraclitus has been attributed the observation that one cannot step into the same river twice; to atomic physicists this has been exacerbated by the proofs that no material is the same twice. Worse, insights beginning in the 19th century developed into a cataract—never the same twice—of understanding of our inner worlds, which not only are in incessant flux, but cannot but distort the external environment with which they interplay.' Katzman's A Greater Monster takes this assumption as a starting point for his philosophical discussion about existence, which is what I take the antics in the book to be all about. Among the descriptions of an original bestiary there are astute comments, profound discussions, a very critical examination/plaint regarding the human.
I have to compare Katzman to someone, which is what you do when you write a review that wants to express that the author is good enough to enter the canon. But I doubt Katzman would agree that Samuel Beckett is his primary literary cohort. And I couldn't really explain why that idea came to me, and, a la the voices in A Greater Monster, nor can I be sure I still think that or if it is planted in my skull estranged or if I actually do remember having thought that, or if I am about to think it, getting ahead of myself. Anyway, his prose isn't like Beckett's. Nor Joyce's. He has done what I think was meant to be done with Joyce--he has accommodated him, learned a bit from him, rather than ignoring him. The book is not Joycean--it's Katzmanian.
When I paused in reading to begin this review I assumed there was some chance the book was going nowhere, so to speak, that it really had no plot and would not require one. I didn't care, and I don't care that I don't yet understand the meaning relayed by the forty or so pages of drawings--but I am rather amazed at the way the story told in the book crept up on me as I so regally regarded myself in ecstasy over the language. At some point rather late in the book I was hoping to finish as soon as possible so I could get to this review, but I had several other reading deadlines and had to content myself with fits of reading, and before I could be done with the novel the story insinuated itself into my reading and quite surprisingly it became emotionally moving--and this anti-novel novelized into a profound ending.
Here are some things I underlined, to provide some idea of Katzman's ingenuity:
The sky is dull and blank like suburban dreams.
Is that all you got, nubcake?
a hypnogogic pillow
color of friction in my mouth [synaesthesia is common tool in this book]
I'm skinless inside my plastic hassle.
Back into the grim haze that's grey and grinning like a mad dog.
space is too nake when hidden
The ceiling cops a rustic attitude
it's the sound of time splitting off from space
Coarse, stratal chimes like the ringing of dirt-brown earth.
the unitary ontolojest the everlasting laugh
Nerves of spoor with hysteria.
Life is tough on a chick with alligator lips.
Homo saperior!
Baskets filled with glowing lichens cast an eerie glow.
Absence hurts the roof of my mouth like loneliness.
noisome methane rollicks in fetid sinkholes
Now, if that's not horny, I'll burn my ass hair.
My dear lazies and genitalmen.
Dear labias and gentrified.
The unquenchisite fuck after erasure. But I'm attracted to the raw.
Feel right in your poin garden?
What I wonder is, is lust complete shrivelscorch?
My scaly loden shell.
recollection is a cannibal
The amethyst parrot disappears into the helium sky.
Move along, rabid thing.
Probably that list would be review enough, and it's true that having made it I am left with little to say. This is one of the most profound books I've ever read, and I am absolutely certain I don't understand it well yet. I will read it again, and probably understand a bit more. But that doesn't matter, for this is a phenomenon, and phenomena have their own existences...if they do... ( )
Profile Image for Cecilia.
69 reviews37 followers
April 19, 2013
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 explode...at 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, this Katzman guy can write! However, doing justice in writing a review for "A Greater Monster" is like trying to explain the meaning of life...and, no, it's not '9'...at least, I don't think it is. I do not feel I can do the book the justice and praise it deserves in mere words even though that is the medium used by the author (well, and some nice artwork, too!) but then Mr. Katzman is a professional whereas I...well, you get my drift...so, please bear this in mind.

Katzman presents us with a young professional in the big city grabbing the slippery socioeconomic rungs of life's ladder pushing ever upward to get ahead. However, at the same time, he's questioning what he's doing, questioning who he's doing it with and questioning why he does anything, for that matter. After pulling many all-nighters slaving at work, wondering why he even bothers going home he unexpectedly meets a homeless man at an alley entrance while hurrying once again to the office. "Better him than me." (quoth the author, David David Katzman in "AGM")...as the thought goes through our 'heroes' mind.

(...and, again, I quote from "AGM"): "Take", he said, holding out his hand. I inspected his dirty, wrinkled palm and the small black lozenge that sat upon it. A gift. The least I could do was allow him the honor of giving it. Better living through karmaceuticals."

Now...one would think of pitching the black icky thing in the nearest bin, or, saying, "No thanks...I just had my fill of black gummies for breakfast", or, just hurrying in the opposite direction when approached by any stranger bearing mysterious black gummy substances in alleyways...but, NOOOOOOO!, not our protagonist! Unbelievably, as the young man works late into the night, his thinking becomes muddled (I mean, how many times can one bounce a koosh off the wall anyway waiting for inspiration) and he decides to experiment, takes out the black lozenge, paper plate, plastic knife......and cuts it in half.

So begins the quest of the young man in a crazy bizarro tale of highly imaginative yin/yang, male/female, up/down, in/out, black/white and all the colors in-between of this psycho/horror/fairy tale.

This book is brilliant...in a very strange, melodic, poetic and even beautiful way...just brilliant!!! You'll likely never read (or see!) another book like, "A Greater Monster", or one of its caliber than by the highly imaginative and prose-fully incredible author, David David Katzman....that is until he writes his next book! I'll be first in line to buy it, too! Thank you, Mr. Katzman, for showing me that books that make you think, stimulating brain cells possibly causing your head to explode, are fun to read and can be a visual feast, as well!
Profile Image for Noelle.
7 reviews
July 30, 2012
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-loathing, and disillusionment with irony that creates subliminal empathy. We meet ‘the guy’ as he self medicates a raging case of existential depression. This ain’t Jerry Maguire or Chicken Soup for the Reincarnated Soul. AGM, through explicit description and wonderfully bizarre imagery explores; consumerism, nihilism, obliteration of individualism, ism’s, and my favorite, the quandary of existence.

DKat sports visual word play, graphic art, and syntax and temporal switch-a-roo’s, that kick in literature professor’s doors. Buckle up. David David Katzman’s A Greater Monster will make you wanna run riot, with Universal Peace of course.
Profile Image for Andrew.
5 reviews3 followers
June 3, 2013
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, forever, everything dissipates, releasing my ink, trailing tornados, I leave behind blooming flowers of unbearable sadness".

Reading Katzman's brilliant, provocative, and jarring novel gave me a feeling of emotional vertigo. Like the narrator, I was looking for something solid, to find a place to rest to know where (and who) I was, at least the flow of change introduced at a staged-down velocity, or voltage. Reading the novel was plugging into the Hoover dam instead of into a wall socket, many times removed by means of transformers of regions-->cities-->city blocks-->houses-->outlets. Added to that, the creator of the book kept switching the channels with freakish speed and subject matter, pummeling settings, characters, and ways of thought and speech that kept me spinning. The speed, the changes, the chaos. . . everything worked, spiraling into crescendos or black holes.

The goldmines of this post-apocalyptic work, which shape-shifted into a theology of becoming, were the pockets of stillness, or at least less speed, when the narrator would engage with a(n outrageous) character who would wax philosophy, theology, sociology, history, physics, chronology, time, etc. Those were the times when I'd drink to quench deep thirst, such thirst being a core theme of the protagonist's journey.

I look forward to reading Katzman's other works.
Profile Image for Joe.
59 reviews12 followers
September 28, 2012
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 with Alice in Wonderland than it does with Greek mythology. There's a whole cast of incredible characters: The Trickster Coyote, the Sphinx, the three seer sisters, The Snow Queen, and even G'nesh (Ganesh). Like Alice, the protagonist undergoes a series of transformations.

There is also a sense that the hero is passing through various worlds, much in the same way a dying man passes through Bardos in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Each transition and each transformation leads the protagonist into the next level. He eventually ends up at a bizarre circus, which is beautifully illustrated. The book, in a nod to our modern age, also contains 2 URLS that lead to supplementary material for the book (much in the same way that The Raw Shark Texts has unchapters hidden both in the real world and online.)

A Greater Monster is an enjoyable read. It is not "light" reading, however, and the reader needs to pay close attention. The effort is worth it.

Note: The book does contains sexual imagery and is not appropriate for children.
Profile Image for Fishycy.
1 review1 follower
November 3, 2012
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. Follow the trail and feel the music and story banging in your head. The pages are all wiggly and shiny and wet with words. I have used AGM's style to model my own short stories of myth and mayhem and madness. My English teacher thinks I'm idiot savant...or just a plain weirdo perv. Objective #1 achieved.

I'm just a kid, so the day I finished reading, I found myself yelling, MOOOOOOOMMMYYYYY, I need another Xanax. Then I took a long nap and dreamed of words and pickles and spacemen with no name. Objective #2 achieved. What's that saying? Reading is FUN-da-MENTAL. Thanks, mommy. good read.
1 review
January 25, 2012
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 details about this book would be a dis-service to the reader. The joy of this book is that you can read it 100 times and get 100 different interpretations from it. There is something to pick up with each reading. This is a book that pays off in more ways than one.

Congratulations to David for not only putting this book out there in such style but for doing it all on his own. A task that is much easier said than done.

This is a fine and beautiful production that is sure to take you to a different and fun place!

Profile Image for Brian Wade.
244 reviews5 followers
February 23, 2013
** 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 mind this comparison is mood based, not plot based.) This is a book to savor, sentence by sentence.... TBC...

** 2/22 ** dunno what to say. Have never read (experienced) this type of book/story before. The above pop-culture comparisons are not even applicable. Mind blown? Yes! Attn Reader: allow yourself to be taken away. Far, FAR Away!!!

Katzman has an incredibly creative imagination. Atta boy!
Profile Image for Jen Knox.
Author 25 books465 followers
October 29, 2011

Okay, so here's my official blurb:

A Greater Monster offers pure sensory stimulation, verging on sensory overload. The graphics, concept and narration are pause-worthy, and they all combine to create literary indulgence at its best—it’s most interactive. The narrator in A Greater Monster doesn’t hold your hand and guide you; he doesn’t ask you to like him. Instead, he delivers a sharp uppercut to your chin and asks you to stop cowering, open your eyes and fight back. You will. He’ll make you.


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