Ouch by Pug Grumble is a strange book to classify. It’s been marketed by the author as “a comical and quirky love triangle between a masochist, a sadist, and a klutz.” It’s definitely quirky and contains very PG-humor throughout, which should appeal to many readers. At its heart, this book is a character-driven story featuring three very eccentric people who become intertwined or perhaps attracted to one another by strange laws of nature.
Sylvester is the main character of this book and most of the pages within are from his strange perspective of his entire life revolving around ways to inflict pain on himself. He’s not what most would think of a masochist; he’s not simply a cutter. He’s a person who looks for every rough edge to be able to gouge himself on. He concocts spiky metal sculptures known as fork roaches to squeeze for instant pain. This addiction is the central characteristic that drives the plot. Sylvester is an extremely likable character readers root for in the end, despite his very peculiar addiction that puts him on the path to borderline destruction and often affects those around him.
Felicia is the ‘evil’ character of the three. A little heartless, self-centric and downright dangerous, to the point where her personality shifts more to the darker side as the novel progresses. People are just playthings to her, yet readers can also relate to her dysfunction in varying degrees, which makes for an interesting and not totally detestable character.
Natalie is the klutz, and becomes the lead for getting readers’ empathy, even eclipsing the main character of Sylvester. But “klutz” is the one thing I had a minor problem with, as classifying her with this term seems outdated and a little bit misleading. Natalie isn’t so much a klutz than an accursed soul whose body is a magnet of almost a supernatural pull to break, hurt and devour her. Most of the comedy in the book comes from not only the oddness of each of the characters, their intermingling and dialogues, but also the over-the-top mischances of this character Natalie.
The Character Combination
This is what makes this book unique, worth the read, and makes it memorable to stand above every other average book being released. One character craves pain, another strives to inflict pain and the other is a victim of pain. This is a love triangle that is bound to face a cataclysmic end, and it does, but not how the reader generally guesses. There’s a nice twist that Pug Grumble throws in the near the end.
Every character in this book, even the minor ones, whether is be Socket (Sylvester’s friend who is an electro-maniac, obsessed with shocking people) to Natalie’s grandma (who may be senile, holding conversations with people in a different time) and even some weird dude that frequents the diner late at night, all have one thing in common: extreme eccentricities that bring this book to life. Even Sylvester’s pet porcupine is a bit strange.
Weird characters doing weird things in weird situations and most of the time this is all presented in a very believable manner. Pug Grumble has transitioned very smoothly from being the creator and artist behind Fairlaine the Goblin to a quality novelist, incorporating a mellow, quirky humor into both projects. There is even a nod/cameo to Fairlaine the Goblin in the book.
A few issues I found was that the author seems to be a little lackadaisical on keeping his characters’ points-of-view separated from chapter to chapter as well as using a few words that don’t exist in either a dictionary or a readers’ terminology, which can slightly be distracting to the flow of the story. I also thought the chapter titles should have been removed as they seem more like the author’s draft outline than beneficial to the reader. In fact, some of the titles in each chapter serve to take away any surprises, acting as almost spoilers. Otherwise, the prose is smooth, it’s a well-written book with really good characterization, and the book is nicely presented with a solid production and layout and without a bunch of typos, commonly found in most self-published book that don’t get the touch of a professional editor.
Ouch is an effective example of an offbeat, character-driven novel that showcases high quality standards in self-publishing. Definitely recommended as I expect this is just the beginning of more unique literary works by Pug Grumble.
OUCH by Pug Grumble
Amazon.com Price: $3.95 (as of 04/14/2021 02:24 PST- Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
If you enjoy a quirky and funny bit of literary fiction (or narcoleptic porcupines and deep-fried pancake bars), this book is for you!
DescriptionA Comical and Quirky Love Triangle Between a Masochist, a Sadist, and a Klutz, Sylvester’s got a bit of a thing for pain. In the silliest of ways, he enjoys it. He likes splinters and stubbed toes, pizza burns and ice cream headaches. He’s dating the perfect girl in Felicia, a sadistic siren who torments any who wander within reach. The kinda girl who sharpens doorknobs and electrifies jukeboxes. But when Felicia goes to jail, Sylvester literally can’t help but run into Natalie, a colossal klutz who topples into everything. The kinda girl who twists her ankle on the toilet and gets injured by plastic reindeer. It’s the start of something fun, until Felicia gets out of prison. If you enjoy a quirky and funny bit of literary fiction along the lines of A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman, THE FINER POINTS OF SAUSAGE DOGS by Alexander McCall Smith, FIGHT CLUB by Chuck Palahniuk, and THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman (or if you enjoy narcoleptic porcupines and deep-fried pancake bars), then this is the book for you!