The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen | Critical Book Review

Cameron A. Straughan’s The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen takes readers on a wild ride through a tapestry of bizarre escapades, crafting a one-man anthology that propels absurdity to the status of a supernova. In this indie fantasy novel, Joshua Ryan Bligh unravels the peculiarities that define Anthony Zen’s surreal journey.

Unraveling the Absurdity

Straughan’s collection of snapshot stories captures the daily life quagmires of Anthony Zen, a character often found navigating the mundane world without his trousers. From job obligations to familial visits and the pursuit of round objects, the narrative unfolds with a peculiar charm. However, the normality ends there, as Anthony’s 32-mile jog to work involves fending off aggressive giraffes, his mother attaching notes to his chin, and his boss gifting him a turnip (complete with a curly-tailed swine persona).

Break-Neck Pacing and Neck-Disintegrating Events

Part slapstick, part Saturday morning cartoon, part fever-dream—The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen covers vast ground within its concise 200 pages. Straughan propels the reader through a whirlwind of events, reshaping perceptions of mundane aspects of life. The pace, rather than being break-neck, is neck-disintegrating, catapulting readers through work, family, relationships, shopping, and even Shakespeare. Each absurd episode starts familiar but rapidly diverges into surrealism, only to circle back and reveal the absurdity inherent in our everyday norms.

Playful Absurdity: A Key Ingredient

Straughan infuses every line with a playful and dauntless attitude, ensuring that fun permeates every corner of the narrative. The author’s commitment to maintaining a rapid rhythm of events keeps readers on their toes, with surprises around every turn. While lacking an overarching plot or well-developed characters, the weightlessness becomes both the book’s strength and a potential stumbling block. For those who relish Looney Toons-esque spectacles during Saturday morning breakfast, Anthony Zen’s adventures serve as an excellent side dish.

An Escapist Delight

As a one-man exquisite corpse game, The Surreal Adventures lives up to its title and ventures into new heights ad absurdum. While it may lack a coherent narrative, the book excels at whisking readers away from reality with a playful lightness that never falters. Best consumed in measured doses, this book offers an occasional side diet of insanity and escapist fun. For those who crave play for the sake of play, pants are optional in this delightful and absurd journey.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, and ISBN

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
IndieBookViewFantasy / Urban Fantasy167 pages978-0968698112

Cameron A. Straughan’s The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen takes readers on a wild ride through a tapestry of bizarre escapades, crafting a one-man anthology that propels absurdity to the status of a supernova. In this indie fantasy novel, Joshua Ryan Bligh unravels the peculiarities that define Anthony Zen’s surreal journey. Unraveling the Absurdity Straughan’s…