Dissecting the chaos of modern life with a unique brand of off-the-wall humour – a wild, hilarious account of one man’s absurd quest for enlightenment, inner peace and a really good pair of trousers.
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Recent Reviews (See Amazon for additional reviews)
“This book is certain to break up any reading rut, just let the silliness and bizarre tales take you away to a completely fantastic and strange land.”
— Amanja Lambert AMANJA READS TOO MUCH
“The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen is a book of 23 short stories following the eccentric character Anthony Zen. When the book begins with poor Anthony being harassed by his ringing cat, being late for work, and rushing out the door forgetting to put on pants, you know you’re in for a treat. Anthony is a likable character with a good sense of humor. His friends, Harry and Chubby, had me laughing out loud when they were prank-calling Anthony. When Anthony explains that he enjoyed prank-calling the kids in the neighborhood, telling them that “he saw Bear Gryls climbing up onto their roof and disappearing down their chimney,” I had a good chuckle. That was a creative and a well-thought out scenario that you wouldn’t think of when he first mentioned prank calls. All 23 short stories have the same theme, mainly the “how-to” deal with a work/life balance, dealing with family, and maintaining the kid spirit that exists in all of us while living an adult life. The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen is a great book if you are looking for a quick read.”
— Danielle Watkins THE BOOK SMUGGLER’S DEN
“Would you like some repulsive, oily, smelly, chemical-ridden, artificial butter substitute on your stale, dry, one-week old popcorn?”
“Yes, that would be completely fantastic in epic proportions!”
This wittily absurd, or absurdly witty, collection of twenty-three short stories with Anthony Zen going through all sorts of seemingly mundane events appears to be a nonsense-filled book. But don’t be fooled! Amid all the nonsensical and hilarious absurdity are razor-sharp jabs at all sorts of institutions in society. Seemingly no one is spared, from sports events to the literary critic to the library system to the judicial system to the police to the so-called wise gurus to the scientific establishment, and more. You can choose to read it at the superficial level of good nonsense for a good laugh, or at a more profound level as an unsettling and thought-provoking running commentary on the absurdities of what we have come to take for granted in society, maybe without questioning them. Cutting through all this you also find a black ringing cat; his descriptions will delight cat lovers, as Anthony’s observations on his cat seem to be the only accurate aspect and constant throughout the stories. Or not, but that’s up to you!
— Victoria Jacot
The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen had me pausing at the end of every chapter with a small spoonful of introspection and a heaping amount of laughter. Truly entertaining! A warning for readers though; Don’t try to make sense of it. Enjoy the ride! Have fun with this experience. Also, keep reading from beginning to end letting the adventures take you wherever it leads. It won’t always make sense and it doesn’t have to. If there is a point to this book, maybe that is the point. Life in this world doesn’t always make sense, so enjoy the absurdity of our daily experiences. Read this and then share it with everyone you know. This book is truly hysterical. It will give anyone a big lift and deserves its place in the sun…
— Brian William Jewell
Anthony Zen had been driving around the city for a few hours, when he saw the flashing lights in the rear view mirror. He pulled over immediately. He had no idea why he was being stopped – no one ever does. He could only guess at how things might turn out.
“Do you know why I stopped you?” he imagined the police officer saying. They always used that line.
“Because you’re a nutty mischief maker – a real leg puller?” Anthony would reply, in a burst of sauciness.
“That’s right!” the police officer would howl. “Made you stop, didn’t I? You fell for my playful little trick!”
But this was not to be the case. The police officer was tapping at the window. He seemed overly serious, maybe even angry. Perhaps he was having a bad day. Anthony rolled down the window.
“Do you know why I stopped you?” the officer asked.
Anthony refrained from joking.
“Was I speeding?” he replied, wanting to appear honest and helpful.
“No,” the officer grunted, as though he wanted Anthony to keep guessing.
“Did I make an incorrect turn?”
“No,” the officer shook his head, “that’s not it either.”
“I went through a stop sign?”
The police officer rolled his eyes and sighed.
“Is a taillight out?”
The officer crossed his arms and began to shake his head. It was obvious that he was rapidly losing his patience. Anthony became frantic.
“Did I run someone over?” he asked, in a state of panic.
“Step out of the car, sir,” the officer ordered.
“I’m sorry?” Anthony replied stupidly, having heard the officer clearly.
“Out of the car!” the officer snapped.
Anthony did what he was told. He was terrified. He began to think that this had something to do with the fact he was driving a stolen police car. The officer looked Anthony right in the eye. Anthony was guilty – it was obvious – but the officer wasn’t going to let him off easy. He was going to prolong the embarrassment – the agony.
“What’s that on top of your car?” the officer asked, pointing to the roof.
Anthony turned slowly and looked up. He returned his gaze to his shoes, unable to face the officer as he spoke.
“It’s a gorilla.”
“That’s what I thought,” the officer nodded slowly. “What’s it doing up there?”
Anthony glanced up at the officer.
“Eating a banana.”
“And how did it get up there?”
“I don’t know,” Anthony shrugged, “I guess it climbed up there, or maybe it fell from a tree.”
“I see,” the officer nodded, looking Anthony up and down. More than ever before, Anthony wished he’d remembered to wear his trousers.
“I suppose you think it’s perfectly legal to go parading through the city streets with a gorilla on the roof of your car,” the officer crossed his arms.
“I don’t know,” Anthony shrugged. “It was never mentioned during driver’s training.”
“Well, it isn’t legal!” the officer snapped. “I’m going to have to take you down to the station.”
Seated in the back of the police officer’s cruiser, Anthony felt cheated. He didn’t know the gorilla. He hadn’t offered the gorilla a ride – the gorilla definitely wasn’t a member of his car pool – yet he was being held accountable for the gorilla’s actions. While Anthony was being rushed to a jail cell, the gorilla was sitting comfortably atop his car, enjoying a banana. The fact that Anthony had stolen the car – a police car, at that – was secondary to the fact that the gorilla had knowingly made a public spectacle of himself at Anthony’s expense. If the gorilla had taken the bus, this miscarriage of justice would never have occurred.
It wasn’t long before Anthony’s day in court arrived. It seemed that justice would prevail after all, although no one really knew what the charge would be – not even the judge. Regardless, the gorilla was the defendant. He had just taken the stand when Anthony was awakened by his lawyer. The gorilla played it cool. He didn’t answer any questions. He made no comments whatsoever. He didn’t even take the oath; he was too busy scratching himself. At one point, during intense questioning, he made a noise of some sort; but the judge dismissed it as a simple passage of gas and ordered it stricken from the records. The jury was puzzled, but they admired the gorilla’s tenacity.
The gorilla seemed so sure of his innocence that the judge let him step down from the stand. Anthony became angry when he learned that the gorilla was probably going to escape all charges. The decision would be based solely on the rule that silence is golden; therefore, the gorilla must be nothing less than a model citizen. Anthony wished to argue that the gorilla’s lack of communication was not due to innocence, but as a result of evolution bestowing him with mental capabilities far below those needed to understand complex judicial methodology. However, Anthony decided to forgo that line of attack, because he didn’t even understand his own argument, let alone the judicial system.
The judge called for Anthony to step forward. Anthony’s lawyer was frantic. He told Anthony that their case against the gorilla was in jeopardy. The gorilla had become a favourite of the jurors; even the judge was fond of him. The only way Anthony could escape being charged himself was to humour the judge and jurors and act like a gorilla.
Anthony had nothing to lose and even less to gain. Playing the role for all it was worth, he raced towards the stand on all fours and leaped up over the railing. The jury was both confused and excited by Anthony’s display. Most of them thought he was supposed to be some sort of squirrel. The rest of them were fast asleep. Even the judge was becoming weary. He had to keep banging his gavel just to keep himself awake.
It was obvious that Anthony had to act fast to maintain attention and win his case. He leaped up into a coconut tree, which happened to be right next to the witness stand. Swinging back and forth, he refused to take an oath or answer any questions whatsoever. He would only bare his teeth and shake his head violently, as if his ears were full of tics. The jury still thought he was supposed to be some sort of squirrel, but at least they were all paying attention now.
With a bang of his gavel, the judge brought an abrupt end to the proceedings. Anthony was given the lesser charge of public mischief. Anthony’s lawyer patted him on the back. His impersonation of a squirrel had earned him high points with the jurors – just enough to beat the rap. Yet, on the way out of the court house, Anthony became philosophical about his lesser charge.
“Public mischief?” he wondered out loud. “If a mother could charge her son with public mischief, I would’ve been in the electric chair before the age of five!”
Anthony Zen is an eccentric, free-spirited young man who collects round objects and shares his flat with a ringing cat. He lives in an unnamed city and works at a place called ‘WORK’, where he diligently shuffles papers and sharpens pencils. He is set upon by a wide variety of modern, commonplace problems yet chooses to deal with them in a playful, mischievous manner in his search for enlightenment, inner peace and a really good pair of trousers.
In Anthony’s universe, even the most mundane day-to-day activity can – and probably will – spiral into absurd, surreal chaos.
With a healthy sense of the absurd, liberal doses of humour, a cup of fantasy, dollops of surrealism and a pinch of shocking unpredictability, ‘The Surreal Adventures of Anthony’ reflects our modern predicament. The twenty-three short stories collected in ‘Anthony Zen’ share common themes including the struggle to remain an individual, the impact of a poor work / life balance, loss/disregard of spirituality, difficulty living in the moment, maintaining relationships, embracing the inner child’s sense of wonderment and fun and coping with expectations that don’t match reality. While these themes are fundamentally serious, ‘Anthony’ reaches for the light. Thus, serious messages are interspersed with moments of levity. This is writing that doesn’t forget to have fun. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Why Zen? Why now?
There has been a recent surge in the popularity of absurd, surreal humor – such as Rick and Morty, The Eric Andre Show and BoJack Horseman. My book is aimed at the same market, in addition to fans of “the classics” such as Franz Kafka, Lewis Carroll, Richard Brautigan, Tom Robbins, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, The Mighty Boosh and Mr. Bean. I know from experience, having done extensive public readings and had many reviews over the years, these stories appeal to ages 12 to 60.
I don’t have dreams of fame and fortune – only getting my ideas out there to as many people as possible, since my ideas are all that I have. This is how I communicate and relate to neurotypical people – through my work and, in particular, my humour. Lastly, based on how things are going right now, I think the world could use a little Anthony Zen!