Why you should read the book?
Zed Yeo studied in philosophy in the University and is currently working for the library. This is his first published work. This book is fictional in nature and contains many unbelievable and absurd, out-of-this-world stories. The title ‘Unapologetically Insane Tales’ is rather apt to describe the content of the book. You really have to take your hat off to him for his wild imagination in developing these stories.
Many of the stories revolve around certain philosophical principles. These will leave the reader pondering after reading, regardless whether one understands these principles. With his stories, you never know what’s going to happen next. A predictable start to a story often trails off into violence, the supernatural or simply the unbelievable. The unpredictability of these stories are what will draw your attention and leave you captivated, always wanting to know more.
Despite this, there are lessons that can be learnt from most of the stories. These will be covered later in the review.
Who is this book meant for?
This book is mainly meant for adults due to the deep underlying themes. Some of these include loneliness, existence, fear, death etc. A few scenes may be a little gory in nature as well. It may not be easy for younger readers to grasp the essence of the underlying themes.
What is the book like?
The books consists of numerous short stories. There are the occasional poems and limericks throw in. The longest story ‘Security Business’ consists of only slightly more than 10 pages. The language used is fairly descriptive in nature and includes the use of complex adjectives. Various metaphors are also being utilized in the book. The plot development is rapid and coherent. Readers should have no trouble following a story. At the end of a few stories, the story will switch back to another dimension. In ‘Hooked’, the character ‘John’ nearly drowns in the final scene after imagining the entire story. The tool of flashback is also being employed.
A handful of the characters have grotesque physical appearances or appear mythical-like. There are also passages where the characters also engage in ‘thinking-out-loud’. The reader can then understand coherently the thought pattern of the character. An example of this occurs in the short story ‘Diagnosis (09:00:00s – 09:53:44s)’, when Charlie reflects on how the doctor is treating him during the medical examination.
Zed infuses a little of Asian and Singaporean culture into his works. Such can be seen from the short stories ‘The Poet and the Lion’ and ‘The Bao’. Satire is used in the story ‘The Poet and the Lion’ to poke fun at the coining of the phrase ‘Nanni Nanni Boo Boo.’
What can I learn from the book?
I have listed the lessons I have learnt in chronological sequence of stories that are presented in the book. Only the prominent stories are featured below.
Origin Story 1: One can learn from everyone, even your disciplines or people more junior than you. A fresh perspective on things always helps.
Origin Story 2: Humans can experience conflicting thoughts and emotions. The Maker is not within grasp and humans are bounded by time and space.
Spoolballs and Warblemouth: Having a disability like blindness/deafness sharpens your other senses. This includes the power of imagination. Sometimes, the world you imagine may be superior to the one you experience in reality.
All I Want for Christmas: Don’t simply grant others’ wishes blindly. See how the wish can benefit the other party eventually. There are all kinds of people in this world.
Under the Bridge: If you live in the present moment and appreciate your environment, life can be a lot more fulfilling.
Diagnosis (09:00:00s – 09:53:44s): Don’t be so quick to dismiss others’ potential. Give them a chance. Let them prove you wrong. The quietest people sometimes have the deepest and most profound thoughts. Do not unto others what you would not have others do unto you.
Life of Voice: The mind never stops thinking. Your thinking self is active and you can’t voluntarily shut it off. However, you can learn to accept these thoughts and work to your desired goals which are consistent with your values.
Onion Man: You are all the layers on your skin. Trying too hard to get something might not pay off. Sometimes it helps just to sit back and the solution might just appear when you least expect it.
Security Business: Don’t be obsessed with the pursuit of fame and fortune. Don’t let mediocrity get in your way. Uphold high standards for yourself and do not lose track of your values. Constantly remind yourself of your goal in life. People generally don’t know what they want unless they stare death in the face.
Hooked: Try and imagine things from the other person’s point of the view. This will help you to build compassion and empathy. Sometimes, the more outstanding you are, the more you will be selected to partake in certain events. Learn to stay inconspicuous.
My Sister’s Story: Companionship and love is invaluable and it certainly beats staying alone.
It’s About Time: There is no need to rush all the time. People are facing much bigger problems out there and yours may simply pale in comparison with theirs.
The Boy and the Grass (Story 1): Don’t stop trying. Although things may not go your way, do not give up. However, you do not have to be an idiot over ridiculously ambitious or unrealistic goals. That would just be bordering on the delusional.
The Boy and the Grass (Story 2): Don’t stop trying. If you are lucky, things might go your way and work out. Make your own luck. People reciprocate and repay your kindness most of the time.
The Boy and the Grass (Story 3): Sometimes, you just have to make do and compromise with the existing situation. Learn to make the most of what you have.
Find out more about Zed here: http://bookcouncil.sg/blog/page/interview-with-zed-yeo-author-of-unapologetically-insane-tales