“Sidney held the strungball by the end of its string and dangled it in front of his eyes, swinging it back and forth.”
Strungballs is a novelette by Mike Russel, that was published in 2016. This strange book tells the story of Sidney, a boy living in a perfectly structured world. Protected by the Sphere of Flesh, the city is safe from danger, leaving everyone inside able to focus on order, numbers, doing what is good, and strungballs. The story begins with Sidney getting his very first strungball, a red ball that gets inserted into a hole taken from your flesh. There is only one simple rule, never remove your strungball. When Sidney begins to think outside the box that contains his life, things quickly become strange and bizarre, forcing the characters to rethink everything they know.
Mike Russell has done a fantastic job of creating a character you can feel for as you take this bizarre journey with him. The story itself falling into a surrealist category, the rules of the world changing almost before you can get a grip of what has just accrued. Russell has given us a story that challenges what a story can be in an exciting and new way that forces you to think about what a story has to be. This is not a book for those who want an ordinary story with character, plots, and rules that fit into what everyday society has shown us a book is supposed to be.
Sidney is the perfect character to follow in a story like this because he is young which means parts of his own society are still be explained to him but he also, as it is the nature of children to do, is very curious, which gives the reader the perfect eyes to see through. As w whole there are not all that many characters in the novelette, Sidney parents, and a handful of other adults and children being the only other people we meet in the city. But even so, the book feels natural and full of life as the book is split between ordered world of the city and the dreamlike world of the other.
Although it is a short read, this book is complex and interesting and unique. This was a great read and me, as a reader, am excited to read more of Russell’s work. Russell is a British author known for his books ‘Nothing is Strange’ and ‘Strange Medicine’, and with titles like that, we can expect his fantastical and extraordinary plots and characters to continue. The only hard thing about reading the book is how to explain it to other in a way that does not spoil the magical journey it takes you on. I would highly recommend this novelette as a quick and easy read that takes your mind on a crazy adventure.
by Mike Russell
Strungballs is an extraordinary novella from Strange Books author Mike Russell.
What are Strungballs?
Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out… but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believe in when he embarks upon a journey that will reveal the astonishing secrets hidden by the red balls on white strings known only as… Strungballs. Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique… all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell. Remember: Once a Strungball is inserted it must never be removed.