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Book Review: Lindsey Thomas

According to the back of Lindsey Thomas’ intensely funny (in the most beautifully depressing way possible) novella, Thomas hopes that Blind Date at the Glass Eye Disco will get her excommunicated from the Catholic Church. If anyone with sway in such matters does in fact get a hold of this unapologetic, deranged thrill ride, and if she hasn’t been already, she’ll probably get her wish.

Religion figures heavily into the book, and that is never more obvious than with the cover of the book itself. Depicting a mildly grotesque stripper, a waitress, and two worshipful patrons, the acrylic painting is strange, funny, and a little disconcerting all at once. Several other pieces of art throughout the book emphasize this notion, painting religion as a concept both compelling and ludicrous, even to the devout.

The writing itself maintains this pattern. To call the book a memoir of a stripper would be doing it a pretty unreasonable injustice. It’s true that Blind Date at the Glass Eye Disco (which is a really, really great title for a book, by the way) follows the wild, bleakly hysterical misadventures of Ashley in her career as a stripper, but Thomas packs a lot more into this novella than most writers could get with a whole novel. It starts with Ashley’s religious uncomfortably sad and funny religious upbringing. With Thomas’ ability to capture absurd detail with straightforward reporting, the religious component to this book would be even funnier. But Thomas knows that we know that people really do live with religious surroundings that feel more like a Ren and Stimpy cartoon, than something that feels like a fulfilling relationship with the notion of a higher power. Thomas understands the humor inherent in the overwhelmingly danger of things like religion, career, love, marriage, family, or just going out to the store for a few minutes. The extent to which she exploits that humor over less than 130 pages is an immense achievement. Through Ashley’s eyes, through the world she careens through, there is a lot of stuff that’s going to make you laugh. There is also likely going to be a lot of stuff that you find yourself relating to on some level.

The humor and perspective, not to mention the artwork, of Lindsay Thomas is yet another testament to writers who work fearlessly, and without any notion of where the work is going to go when it’s done. That’s how any writer works, but there’s a need for this story to be told that is clear in everything she writes. That fearlessness gives her carte blanche to put the story to paper as she sees fit, and this is why the book is such a singular experience. This is one of the literary voices that you consider yourself extremely fortunate to have stumbled upon.