Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 3, 2014 - 6:08am

'Nefarious Twit' by Tony McMillen

Discussion has officially started!

Synopsis: Madness. Murder. Children’s literature. Nefarious Twit, the ferociously clever debut from author Tony McMillen. After his mother commits suicide, Rick Lime decides to finally find his father, the legendary children’s book author known as Nefarious Twit. The same Nefarious Twit who disappeared from the public eye 22 years ago abandoning Rick and Rick’s mother at the height of his fame after releasing one final controversial children’s book. Rick Lime has decided to find his father so that he can murder him. Along for the ride is Rick’s violent but fiercely loyal half-brother Lou. Both of them are addicted to a strange drug called Vitrillum and as they set out for misguided vengeance their drug-soaked journey begins to resemble one of Nefarious Twit’s children stories. Reality and Twit’s stories seem to converge as the brothers follow the path of the dark ladder, the ominous symbol from Twit’s most popular books, which appears to be leading them right to the author. Featuring 14 full-page illustrations Nefarious Twit is a bent, psychedelic odyssey through the darker parts of North America. There are stop offs involving blissful, stoned children on psychotropic drugs administered by their mothers, the joys of erectile dysfunction, and the prevailing myth of the Wandering Jew. Bleakly funny, beautifully sad, and profoundly strange, Nefarious Twit is a stylish and defiant debut novel about how the things we leave unfinished may end up being the things that finish us. Like Shel Silverstein by way of William S. Burroughs.

Author: Tony McMillen lives near Boston but grew up mostly in Tucson, Arizona. He writes the humor column “Touch The Wonder” where he performs droll vivisections on pop culture with equal parts vitriol and whimsy. The column is published by DigBoston.

Discussion has officially started!

Nefarious Twit has been on and off my radar for a little while now. And, honestly, I didn't pay it much attention. I consider a lot of books for the book club and most times I'm stressed about narrowing my selections down. But then I saw a lot of my friends posting reviews and just saying awesome things about this book. So I contacted a few of them and they all said that it would make an awesome discussion. I value their opinions more than anything, so here it is.

Can't wait to see what you guys think.

Here's Tony's blog - http://tonymcmillen.wordpress.com/

Get to reading!

Purchase the book here!

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break February 3, 2014 - 6:37am

I'm glad to see this book got picked. I recently read it and enjoyed the hell out of it.

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing February 3, 2014 - 8:14am

Thanks, Brandon. I'm very happy that this book got picked too, mainly since I'm the guy who wrote it. I seriously can't wait to hear what people think of the book, good, bad, ugly or indifferent. Well, hopefully not indifferent, that shit's the worse.

 

Anyways,

Thanks LitReactor. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 7, 2014 - 11:39am

This weekend, Nefarious Twit will be a free kindle download. So if you were on the fence about getting it and checking it out - there's no excuse now. So hop over to amazon some time tomorrow or Sunday and get yourself a copy.

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne February 8, 2014 - 12:14pm

I backed it, so have a copy, but no way to read it for the foreseeable future.

Renae Gee's picture
Renae Gee from Australia is reading All the words! February 9, 2014 - 12:26pm

I have it, now to get reading. Thanks.

klaut's picture
klaut from London is reading 52 Pickup February 23, 2014 - 10:41am

Just got it, too :)

I missed the free kindle download, but nevermind. Now, on to make some time to read it.

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick March 8, 2014 - 8:08am

OK, here goes my review:

First of all, wow! The book evoked wide range of emotions to me and I have a mixed feeling about it, but my mind is still going through some parts, so I guess the author really has impressed me.

It's probably the first recently published book I ever read (meaning I never was in the same web community with the author), so I was interested in the craft and tried to analyze the writing as the book started.

Little did I know that I'd be sucked into the story right away.

Some scenes were funny and some were uplifting, but there were few scenes that really made me cringe. For those of you who read it, you know, the scene where Lou hallucinates in a bar. Man, that was the part that popped into my mind long after I'd finished the book.

The nation of Darjmainia intrigued me a lot, and I've been trying to guess the location of this island since it was first mentioned. When the indigenious folklore was introduced, I looked up the word on Google to see if the country really exists. (and the cuisine is influenced by Mongols, too?)

Because I can relate to being a citizen of a country with very little population, having no voice or representation in the world's vast network of dialogues. But I digress.

I really liked the way the book was describing the events to unfold at the beginning of most of the chapters. It reminded me of Mark Twain or the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Oh, and is the author's uncle really THE Vonnegut? Because that's so cool.

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 4, 2014 - 8:12am

Hi Natso,

This is Tony McMillen, thank you so much for your review of Twit. Thank you also just for reading the book at all, it means a lot to me.


I'm sorry about the offensive passage from Twit with the line "mongoloid whores" it was not my intent to actually be offensive but I think that my writing may have been a little clumsy in that section so that's on me.

To explain: although the book is written in a 3rd person narrative voice sometimes the narrative becomes very close 3rd person so it is basically showing the reader how a certain character thinks or feels about a situation. In that chapter I was trying to convey that this was how Lou felt, meaning that Lou was being absolutely racist as well as offensive toward people with down syndrome  comparing the sound he was hearing as the sound of mentally handicapped whores having sex.

I was re-reading the passage and I can see how it's hard to differentiate sometimes between the 3rd person voice telling the story and when the book switches to a close 3rd person voice and reveals what Lou himself thinks of the situation.

What I was trying to do  using the phrase "mongoloid whores" was paint a picture of Lou as a bit of an offensive, uneducated, ignorant person. I was also trying to show later on in the same page by using a reference to "Caligula's court" that Lou, despite being so ignorant, actually is a lot smarter than he lets on (like in the beginning of the book when he pulls Fahrenheit 451 off the shelf at the library and then sets the place on fire) so he knows who Caligula is, or at least enough that he can reference him.

But again, I don't think I did a great job of trying to convey this with this part of the book and I totally understand why that part could offend you or someone else.

So I'm sorry for that.

 

P.S. Sadly no, Vonnegut is not actually my Uncle. I meant it as more of an honorary title sort of thing. Like if I had any sort of spiritual guidance in my writing (and let's be honest here,  I don't actually) I'd like to think it'd be  Vonnegut.  

 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 5, 2014 - 4:42pm

I just got it and I'm looking forward to reading it! I really appreciate your commenting on your work, Tony McMillen. Too bad about Vonnegut tho.

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 7, 2014 - 9:11pm

Yeah, it bums me out every day that I am not Vonnegut's nephew as I'm sure his greatest disappointment was not being my uncle.

So it goes.

 Thank you. And of course, I love talking about my stuff, who doesn't? 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 7, 2014 - 11:33pm

I'm sure Mr. V was bummed a great many things, including not being kin to you!

.... Ok, about Lou: made up or based on..?  Or no comment? -- I just got into the first 20 pages; life interrupted.

No harm, no foul, if you don't reply. :) 

 

also, Tucson has some great scenery, if you know where to look; too damn hot though, even for a Southerner. 

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick March 8, 2014 - 8:20am

Wow, I was excited to see who had posted under my review while I was traveling in the countryside with no service, and I have a message from the author?

I wasn't offended at all hehe. I was just confused about the word connotation on what it meant. Now I get it. Actually, the word Mongolian idiot comes out in Vonnegut, Stephen King, Heinlein, a lot of authors I truly admire, so I'm actually excited when I see that word. :) I do understand it was a word for those born with extra chromosome, and although the word saddens me, I didn't take it as an offense. I guess it befuddled me a wee bit when the next word came along, but I digress...

Sorry it took so long to reply. I finished the book way before and I was excited to discuss this here. I've been waiting for at least a week until 1st of March to write on the review, and when on 1st of March (morning) I saw no one had wrote, I was a little anxious to be the first person to write.

P.S: I forgot to write that I put down Nefarious Twit only three or four times. I usually have to get distracted to do other things in my life (breakfast, peeing, you know, the usual stuff), but your book was an interesting journey all the way.

P.P.S: At the final scene of the book, I always imagined his father as looking like Vonnegut. Him sitting on a chair with his best suit. So it goes.

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 8, 2014 - 8:28am

Thanks, Natso. I'm really happy Nefarious Twit was a hard to put down read for you. That's a hefty compliment for my writing. 

 

And yeah, the look of Twit in my mind always had bit of Vonnegut with maybe a dash of Mark Twain and a few people from my own life thrown into the mix. But Vonnegut was always the main template, physically, for Twit. 

 

I'm really happy you shared your thoughts here. Thank you. 

klaut's picture
klaut from London is reading 52 Pickup March 9, 2014 - 1:26pm

Just finished the book.
Wow. It kept me inside its weird world for three days (this is how long it took me to finish it).
It is beautiful. It is sad. It is dark. It is weird. It is disturbing.

I've put it down few times because i was afraid to read what was coming..(when Lou finds out about the true nature of The Blonde,  when Rick decides to come back to the motel where he left Lou and Nix, to name the few). I kind of knew what was coming but i did not want it to happen. Not to Lou, not like this. I grew to care for him. I grew to understand him and I everytime hoped it would turn out alright for him.

It took me a while at the beginning to get into the two brothers, but then.. they became my heroes. Specially Lou. He seemed so lonely, and scared.

I wish they could be saved. Oh, I really wish they could be saved!

Looking forward to read more of you :)

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 9, 2014 - 2:11pm

Thank you very much, klaut. Very, very much. 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby March 10, 2014 - 2:04pm

I need to think about this book for a while (just finished it). I'm so glad Lou got the last word. I really cared about what was happening to him; in a lot of ways he truly was a victim.

This will sound weird, but I kept thinking of Jacob's ladder when I saw Twit's ladder, and Jacob wrestling with the angel. I'm going to reread some sections; I'm still working over the idea of forgiveness with all the main players, and Twit's last words about the terrible sentences we give ourselves.

Excellent book!

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 12, 2014 - 7:22am

Thank you for all the kind words, Justwords. 

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick March 16, 2014 - 4:50am

Just finished the tie-in short story, Veksuss. (I'm obsessed with Darjmainia at this point)

I highly recommend it. Here's the link.

Again, the intro is so meta and witty.

The dialogue cracked me up. I don't know why, but I instantly liked the mother. Veksuss I came to like after some time. Our favorite Boneima is in there once again, but it's way more violent-- and seductive-- than it was in the book.

Again, this story has scenes from scary, to funny, to blushing. I wasn't sure about the ending, though.

Spoiler alert:

 

Blah, blah, blah, biltik was foretelling about an unknown devil, and about how it was impossible to fight it, it might be encounters with foreign civilization, but i'm not sure, what do you all think? end of spoiler, blah, blah, blah.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 21, 2014 - 6:40am

Was finally able to finish this.

I think the ending was perfect. Just like Twit's book, this one leads it open for the reader to decide.

What did you guys think of the narrator and how he kept breaking the fourth wall, addressing us, the readers? I didn't mind it too much. It seemed to break up some of the tension. And it was used just often enough where I didn't find it annoying.

Structure-wise, I loved the story. It was almost a classic hero's journey. It kept me engaged the whole time. If I had more free time in my life right now, I would have easily finished it in less than a week.

My only complaint really is that it could have used a good editor to give it a once through. There were quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes that should have been caught.

I didn't listen to the Books and Booze podcast with Tony, so I'll ask what Brandon already asked of him - Why didn't you try to get this to a publisher instead of self-publishing? The quality of story is there.

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 21, 2014 - 7:28am

Thanks, Pete.

Well, to answer your question I did try and get it published through a more traditional route, and I'm still very open to the idea of having this republished more traditionally or my next book being published that way, but I tried with Twit to get it to a publisher and/or me an agent for about 6 years. Granted, the book was a bit different than the one you read during the first 4 years or so when I was shopping it. But basically nobody was biting. I had a couple of interested agents that eventually both said, "We like it, but it's a little weird and we don't know if it'll make any money so, sorry, can't take it on." 

Which I actually understand in a lot of ways.  It's hard to take chances, especially now with no one knowing what the industry is doing. 

In the last year leading up to publishing it myself I tried with a few smaller presses and basically everybody said no or just never got back to me. 

Or they were such a small press they were basically a vanity press and I decided I could do everything they were offering me myself and not have to split the already tiny pie of profits.

So I created my own company Branch Hands and just went for it.

I actually did have a copy editor but, of course, after getting back the latest corrected draft, I went in and did a whole new draft which is what became the final draft. And I didn't have the money to pay for an additional copy edit.  

My mistake.

I might have to fork over the cash now and get someone to go over this edition and then I'll release a second edition that's a little smoother. No actual story changes, just the technical stuff I missed or screwed up. 

Thanks for digging the story, and I'm glad you liked the ending.

SPOILER ALERT***

What's funny is the first 5 drafts or whatever back up until like 2 years ago had the last page of the actual novel being torn out but I felt that might be a tad too gimmicky, so instead I retained the way the story ends and just figured out my last line, one that would work within the narrative style.

Plus I was like, fuck Rick, that's a huge waste of paper having thousands of books published with a torn out last page.

I could have done some sort of effect on an actual page making it look torn out but again, I figured that was just a little too predictable or on the nose.

 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon March 21, 2014 - 7:56am

I feel dumb because I don't know whot the bearded guy is.

Did I totally miss something obvious? (I read a lot of this right before bed, fighting my eyes to stay open so I could at least get some reading in for the day)

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing March 21, 2014 - 8:38am

Hahaha.

I wonder how many people who've read it figured it out? 

Show of hands.

Well, you know a lot of people I showed this to didn't get who he was in the earlier drafts. So that's why I made the narrator kind of dick about it now, that's why he's taunting the reader so much about this character's identity.

 

So I'll tell you if you want to know, if  anyone reading this doesn't want to know, or wants to figure it out for themselves then do not read below what I post!

 

SPOILER ALERT*************************************************************

SPOILER ALERT************************************************************

 

 

 

 

The bearded guy with "Rasputin's good looks," that's the Wandering Jew.

The actual Wandering Jew, or some shared hallucination of the Wandering Jew. This is why he's such an expert on shoes and forgiveness or lack thereof.  

 

 

 

 

END OF SPOILERS*********************************************

***********************************************************************

************************************************************************

I can't stand spoilers so this is why I'm being so crazy about this.

 

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 27, 2014 - 10:23am

I read this one last week and now offer my timely contribution. haha

Breaking the fourth wall, at first I thought, "Eh, first novel, maybe he's making disclaimers and being self-deprecating about his abilities," etc., but that proved not to be the case over the course of the book, and I came to look forward to them after a while. I know I've seen such a method before, but can't remember where. A children's book, maybe? What was the inspiration for those?

The protag's stubbornness started to get to me near the end, but at least he was consistent like that. And Lou's sort of an archetype we recognize, that "when's he gonna crack and ruin everything?" man-child that calls to mind things like A Simple Plan, Of Mice and Men, etc. Some of my favorite moments came from the day players, like Dr. David Lee Roth. The girl's fate came as a surprise to me. It wouldn't've at first, but the more we invested in her (and she in them), the more I wanted a happy ending. For the characters, I mean; it made this reader happy.

Have you read John Dies at the End? It has a similar tone (but deals with the supernatural), or maybe it's just the relationship between the guys that reminded me of it.

Nice job, Tony!

Tony McMillen's picture
Tony McMillen from Mostly glorious Tucson Arizona but now I live near Boston. is reading Not, I'm writing May 27, 2014 - 11:10am

Thanks, Gordon. Very thoughtful stuff coming from you. Totally on point with Lou, he was very much thought of as that type of guy, like Lennie from Of Mice and Men or even De Niro's character from Mean Streets. That sort of guy who you try to take care of but just know he's going to bring you down and hurt a lot of people in the process. And of course, a bit of Lou also comes from some people from my own life and even a bit of myself. 

The fourth wall breakage was a bit of a late edition to the book in some ways. There were chapters in old drafts that really flirted with a narrator like that and after re-reading some old kid's books and The Hobbit I started remembering how much old children's stories and the like used to have narrators like that. Who sort of toured you through the book at the beginning of chapters and at other pivotal moments. And it made sense for this story to be told like that. So I just wnet for it and rewrote the novel with that voice at the forefront. It was definitely risky but most folks who like the book like that about it. 

Anyways, again, thanks, man for all your words about my words.