-Jeremy C. Shipp
In my experience, a vacation is something that you do to remind yourself that your house is the best place to be. You lay out an excessive amount of funds so that you can travel far away from all the things which you have bought over the years to make you more comfortable. You go to a place where you don’t know anyone or where anything is. After spending the majority of the evening trying to find a good place to buy booze, you pay twice the normal rate for something which you normally wouldn’t drink if someone gave it to you for free. After giving up on the wine coolers you go to sleep and wake up much earlier than usual after sleeping in an uncomfortable bed which has been soaked for years in the bodily fluids of strangers. When your masochistic urge peters out you lay out yet more money so that you can go back home and be happy again. These are experiences common to most. Reading a book about jet lag and depleted bank accounts would be a vastly unrewarding experience. Luckily Mr. Shipp had something different in mind when he conceived “Vacation”.
In “Vacation”, Jeremy Shipp has manufactured what may be called the ultimate metaphorical superconscious for dummies. Whereas most “Bizarro” authors create new alternate realities based on extremely bizarre representationalism, Jeremy Shipp has gone the opposite direction. He embraces the absolute bizarreness of absolute reality. He blends the conscious and subconscious mind into one
tangible waveform using subtle metaphor and honest storytelling. Vacation exists in the awkward moments between confusion and self-realization.
Our hero lives a pointless and superfluous existence despite his achievements and position. He hates life: every abnormal twitchy moment of it. After thirty-five years he finally decides that he can’t put a vacation off any longer. However, he soon learns that this is not a typical vacation. It is not so much a vacation from his job as a vacation from himself where he is finally free to re-imagine his own existence and metamorphosize into someone else. His vacation is ultimately a metaphor for the transformative power of transgression, or at least a rite of evolutionary passage between the robot and the truly free. His own imaginary dead sister plays Virgil as he traverses the various rings of his own personal hell eventually emerging from his own ass as a full human being.
Jeremy Shipp has written a uniquely beautiful tragedy steeped in dark humor and wisdom and lightly sprinkled with violence. His words sweat duality as they dance a yoga jig on the tongue of your psyche. His observations on political, psychological, and sociological issues are as concise and effective and any I have seen. The tragedy of gaining and the joy of losing have never been so eloquently summed up as they have been in this novel. “Vacation” is a truly original piece of literature written in a unique style. I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know for a very long time.