There’s something so delightfully contrarian about Andy Lazris’ new, as he calls it, three-dimensional reading experience that is The Great Stupidity. The sort of unhinged, chaotic, and creatively anarchistic experience it has narratively-speaking calls to mind the cinematic works of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, author of the similarly satirical and decidedly skewed Being John Malkovich and the Nic Cage vehicle Adaptation. Lazris doesn’t hold back when it comes to his strong feelings about the societal reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: https://www.andylazris.com/
It’s interesting because Lazris works as a medical physician, yet in the spirit of peers in his field of study (think George Miller, Michael Crichton, Robin Cook) he seems to provide himself a proverbial and creative enema with the zany nature of his writing projects. This is tempered however by Lazris’ sprawling knowledge, not just based on his professional experiences, but on what one would argue (and hope isn’t entirely, decidedly literal) life experiences as well. The soundtrack he provides that goes along with the book’s storyline and overall, unique structure forms a sort of stylistic bridge between the poetry of a Neil Young, Elvis Presley, or Leonard Cohen twenty first century-style with the corner-cutting and genre-busting abandonment of all rules, boundaries, and limitations that used to exist between what one would call literature, and what one would call entertainment.
To really appreciate The Great Stupidity in its entire, collectivized glory is to be something of a Sherlock Holmes. You’re constantly having to go back and forth between the soundtrack Mr. Lazris provides, and then the text on the page itself. You’re as much an audience to the show he puts on for you with The Great Stupidity as a reading and auditory experience, as you are part of the seams and the mechanisms turning the narrative wheel. It’s a really odd and discombobulating experience, for me personally, and not one I could ever entirely get used to or feel myself melding into the cruxes of. But perhaps, oddly enough, that’s part of the point. Lazris certainly knows how to put on a good show, the writing thrusts you into painful, visceral description scapes that will leave your head spinning and your heart racing. Then, coupled with his jaded and scratchy vocals accompanied by an old-school, dissonant guitar, a human face gets put on even the most baffling, and most left-of-center aspects of the narrative he dispenses from literally page to page, and overall obviously from chapter to chapter.
Through the lyrics themselves provided, you get a sense of Lazris’ sardonic nature and apparent disgust at certain societal aspects. “We often mock the doctors, scholars, and leaders back (in the past),” he clarifies in the book’s preface. “And yet, after I read more about…truly horrendous pandemic(s)…I realize we haven’t changed a bit. Our response to this virus is just as feckless, injurious, and unscientific as that of our ancestors. It is just as dogmatic and ritualistic, clothed in Geertz’s religious symbols that we proclaim to be scientifically derived so as to feel as though they hold legitimacy. We have our own experts spinning similar tales, telling us to engage in similar behaviors, and declaring that they speak the one and only truth.” Whether or not you agree with the specificity of Lazris’ sentiments, you have to give the guy credit for being a truly original, somewhat polarizing creative figure. But these days, it really kind of fits.