In the Belly of the Bell-Shaped Curve
iUniverse Rising Star (2020)
Reviewed by Chelsy Scherba for Reader Views (01/2023)
“In the Belly of the Bell-Shaped Curve” might be one of the most original titles I’ve read to date. Written by Michael Carter, it’s packed full of relatable thoughts, feelings, and cultural references that never fail to amuse and entertain. The premise is as follows: Turk has come to the conclusion that his life would be better if he just found a way out of the mundane. Divorced, pudgy, and uninspired by his tedious job as a claims adjuster, Turk dreams of coming up with a plan to train chimps to take on menial labor for people and earn himself freedom from life’s drudgery. He’s willing to do almost anything to achieve his dream: sacrifice time with his kids, break the law, even contact a known scammer. Follow Turk on his strange and enjoyable journey. You won’t regret it!
I chose to read this book because it had a similar premise to the TV show “Severance,” and while not as creepy nor dystopian as the former, this book certainly satisfied my desire to enjoy the mind of a slightly mad man in a bizarre world that is entirely his own, and yet, also so much a part of our own world as well. Mr. Carter has the gift of observation in spades. The way he described certain characters and how they presented themselves had me cracking up because these are all people you’ve seen before, so you innately know them even if you can’t describe them half as well as the author can.
As far as content, there is a bit of rude language and a brief but not too detailed sexual encounter that makes this book more suitable to an adult audience. I tend to not like those things in my books, but the rest of the book more than made up for it, so I definitely recommend it in spite of those things if you want a good laugh.
Turk is wonderfully neurotic and delusional, and it was so fun to inhabit his world. I really enjoyed the philosophical themes and the on-the-nose observations made throughout the story. Some of my favorite parts featured candles, Nigerians, and apes, which were all very funny and made this book a thoroughly entertaining read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes weird books, because it’s definitely weird, but that’s what’s so great about it. People who like “The Office” or any workplace comedy will likely enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s bizarre, relatable, and amusing, so you’ll have a blast reading it. It’s a strange, original story that takes you to all those people and places you were told to avoid and shows you what happens when you do. It’s an adventure of sorts that embodies one man’s desperation and extreme lengths to change his circumstances, for better or worse, to the reader’s amusement. There’s just so much I’d love to gush about, but saying anything more would ruin the experience. It’s better to go in knowing about as much as I did, and if you read it, you’ll see why.