American Cheese Across the Void


Fiction - Humor/Comedy
624 Pages
Reviewed on 06/06/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

American Cheese Across the Void by James Allenday is a multi-genre, unusually formatted book that speaks about a lot of things. It has something for everyone, from poetry to cartoons, to film scripts, to recipes, mock advertisements, and a lot of things in between. As one reads through this colorful, beautifully illustrated book, one feels they are dropping into the mind of the author, a mind that sweeps through a maze of thoughts, things, and events, exploring realities that stare modern readers in the face. The author makes a mockery of modern mass media, featuring advertisements that defy the run-of-the-mill publicity readers encounter every day. This is a book that can be read in any order for each chapter, each thought, each fragment stands alone, evoking a cultural sentiment, a bias, or an element experience with sheer brilliance.

In this collection of “all forms of art” -- exotic and uncommon images, cartoons, paintings, and nuggets of thoughts punctuated by stories that are personal and hilarious -- the reader finds a new world to navigate, a world that seems strangely familiar, a little lost in the past, but one that carries the roots of the eccentricities of a culture that can’t be shrugged off just that easily. It is voluminous, but in each page, there is something that catches the reader’s attention and puts a smile on their face — a humorous line, a recipe to try, an image that is captured from a unique angle and that seems to have a very long story behind it, and a lot more. The writing is unique, defying the conventional style of storytelling and the phraseology, characterized by condensed thoughts, is indicative of the author’s gift for brevity.

American Cheese Across the Void is the kind of book you want on your lap as you sit in a coffee shop, waiting for an appointment. You will not notice the passage of time as you go through this artistically designed, highly creative, and very humorous book. There is culture buried in these pages and a kind of humor that today’s fast-paced lifestyle has stolen from most of us.

Alyssa Elmore

When a mysterious package arrives on the doorstep of a well-known journalist, circumstances surrounding several mysterious deaths come to light, along with evidence that interdimensional travel is not only possible but has happened. Horatio Barnes began his time traveling adventures as a small boy. Discovering fifty-eight parallel realities, Horatio explores and observes how the interdimensional realities work while creating a journal of his experiences. When a murder is committed and a professional hitman starts hunting him, Horatio is drawn into a conspiracy that spans parallel lifetimes, endangering his life and the lives of those he loves. Determined to bring about justice, Horatio enlists the help of a journalist, handing over a large flash drive containing books, advertisements, recipes, and other artifacts from his parallel life. Can Horatio find the murderer before he is found? Will the journalist be able to help him before it is too late and the murderer gets away?

American Cheese Across The Void by James Allenday is a comical sci-fi work containing recipes, humorous stories written as poetry, and even a few intense screenplays with convoluted plots and fascinating characters that draw the reader in, capturing their attention to the very end. I enjoyed the retro-vintage looking advertisements and recipes, and the articles and podcasts strategically spaced between stories. The retro elements attracted me and the stories kept me reading. The inclusion of space recipes (measured in beakers and using Latin words for the ingredients) is an extra fun addition to the story. I recommend this enjoyable book to mature readers as it contains elements such as strong language and adult situations.

K.C. Finn

American Cheese Across The Void is a work of surreal and quirky comedy fiction penned by author James Allenday. Presented in an unusual layout as an illustrated manuscript with a collection of articles, fake adverts, scripts and other tidbits that appear to be non-fiction at first, this intriguing journey largely follows a pair of ‘brothers’ who interact with one another’s lives in odd ways. There are also articles and interviews, photographs and illustrations which continue the narration of the primary author’s life in such a way that totally blurs the lines between one reality and the next, creating a truly surreal reading experience.

This epic journey of a tale reminds me of all sorts of bizarre and entertaining works, from Douglas Adams to Welcome to Night Vale and The Truman Show. Seemingly factual in nature and often written in journalistic and diary style, the experience of working out fact from fiction is a huge entertainment factor in the work of author James Allenday. It is genuinely difficult to tell what bizarre turn any small section will take, and even the little adverts and photo captions have interesting twists to them that tickle the funny bone in innovative ways. The formatting of the book is fresh and exciting, taking literary comedy in a brand new direction that demands attention for its style, sharp wit, and utterly unabashed surrealism. If you’re looking for a strange new world to dive into, I’d highly recommend American Cheese Across The Void for your next diversion from reality.

Judith Rook

James Allenday’s American Cheese Across the Void is a collection of attractively eccentric ideas and observations, assembled into what its publicity presents as: “a contemporary illuminated manuscript brimming with humor and whimsy.” Featuring prose, poetry, screenplays, recipes for youthful cooks, exchanges in Morse code, an epic history related in a strange rustic vernacular, and a stylish introductory invocation to a tenth Muse, the content is not what one might expect to find in a collection of thoughts and reflections, even if they are from another universe.

The material is gathered by one Horatio Barnes as he moves between his two favorite parallel dimensions out of a possible fifty-seven or so. “How I got to Mars is irrelevant,” he says, packing up rock samples and an item taken from the now-defunct NASA “Opportunity” rover for delivery to the Earth of our contemporary dimension. “My only intent in writing these articles is to incriminate Leonard Psalter for murder.” There’s a statement to interest anyone; it is perhaps indicative of the spirit of the presentation that it appears on the final page.

This is a book which does not offer an easy, fast-paced read. The pieces call for attention because of their oddness and sometimes they challenge the understanding. However, it would be a mistake to try to impose ordinary, middle-of-the-road “sense” on James Allenday’s American Cheese Across the Void; it can’t be done. Even if the collection lacks the continuity we expect, and a recognizable structure, it is a highly intriguing, finely crafted and very attractive work, interesting and amusing, and well worth a place on anyone’s virtual or material coffee table.

Rabia Tanveer

American Cheese Across the Void by James Allenday is a whimsical book that takes up quite a few pages but every single one of them is a gem! Humorous, witty and satirical, this book talks about what we want to talk about, but we can’t. Societal norms, mass media, and our own expectations often hold us back, but in this book, the author takes the words right out of our mouths and is saying this for us in his own witty way. While the book has been written on a lighter note, the message behind each word is deep and very real. The book contains recipes, mock advertisements and film scripts that may not make sense at first, but as you read on, you will catch up and understand what the author is trying to say.

There are so many reasons for us to live our lives the way we want to. We can be as whimsical as we want, as sassy or as serious as we want, but that all comes back to us. The moment we let others and their opinions matter, we lose our chance of getting what we want. The book talks about the possibilities that we have, the way we can be and how we can achieve we want, all in a brilliantly humorous manner. The narrative was smooth, the flow was great and the build-up to each piece was nice. I thought I would have to spend time to finish this book, but I actually finished it pretty quickly. The pictures inside add little anecdotes to the pieces and helped me understand the context a little more. I enjoyed American Cheese Across the Void. All in all, this is the kind of book that offers plenty to think about.