This review of You’re My Favorite Reader by Chris Federico was written in 2003 for the website Infinity Plus.
iUniverse, 2003, £9.49, 118pp, ISBN 0-595-26597-9
If you appreciate the title You’re My Favorite Reader then you’ll almost certainly enjoy the rest of the book, since it exactly captures the spirit of New Mexican Chris Federico’s first collection of very short stories, vignettes and odd fragments of non-fiction.
There’s a quirky and restless sense of humour at play here, hopping barefoot across the literary spectrum as though it were hot desert sand. Fans of Steve Aylett’s brand of surreal-humour-possibly/possibly-not-genius will feel instantly at home, amongst such gems as ‘Bio Of A Johnson’, the two volumes of ‘Resentful Tales’ and ‘The Juarez Window Mafia’.
These and other tales like them, which make up the bulk of You’re My Favorite Reader, are both insane and funny. Federico sails pretty close to the wind in his selection of idiom since I’ve always personally maintained that 1) wackiness is the lowest form of wit, and 2) there’s only one letter difference between insanity and inanity.
Luckily, these pieces are very short; most are less than two pages, a couple are less than one paragraph. They never outstay their welcome (except, unfortunately, ‘Liner Notes From The Best Of Boyce Bender’ – practically Federico’s magnum opus at a sprawling nine pages in length).
‘Affair On A Rainbow’ and ‘Curing An Ideal’ both deal, in different ways, with perception, one ending horribly, the other beautifully; and both are intelligent nicely underwritten pieces.
My own particular pair of favourites both come near the end. ‘My Chapter In The “Floor-Model Nation” User’s Manual’ is a autobiographical piece about the author’s ‘one prolonged expedition outside the state of New Mexico since my immediate family moved here when I was seven’. (p.85). Very different to anything else in You’re My Favorite Reader (mainly because it’s relatively conventional), and very good, it reads as though it were a try-out for a much longer piece. I look forward to the extended novel that this could so easily become when the writer has a couple more decades under his belt.
Secondly (penultimately in You’re My Favorite Reader) is ‘People Often Suck’, which on first reading had me laughing out loud in public. But then a second reading found me fashioning a hat out of tinfoil to block Federico’s telepathic powers and spooning out my thoughts for his writing!
You’re My Favorite Reader doesn’t take terribly long to read and boredom is not an option whilst doing so; plus you’ll have the warm, milky satisfaction of knowing you’re now Chris Federico’s favourite reader.
So try it – who knows, he may be your favourite writer!