125 — When Thief Meets Thief

Cover of When Thief Meets Thief

What is the sound of a skull batting again and again at the hardest wall any coconut failed to crack? Why, it’s the sound of your pals reading Harry Stephen Keeler’s When Thief Meets Thief!

This legendary underground author works through his obsessions (skulls, coincidences) and takes us through a long tour of his racial attitudes—and one of those two things is, depending on your patience levels, fun/acceptable. The other is a firehose of awful. (This book comes with a content warning for racist slurs and attitudes, self-harm, and one very cartoonish act of violence against an animal, very little of which is discussed in the episode.) But, whether or not you can get past the difficult to digest subject matter, you can always confront the difficult to parse timeline, or just wallow in the difficult to understand prose. This one, it’s safe to say, isn’t like anything you’ve read before.

Extra bonus illustrations! If you want to see what it looks like when one tries to summarize the entire plot of a Keeler book, read this effort by William Poundstone. NOTE: it’s like 2,500 words long. If you want to see what a Keeler-style “webwork” diagram looks like, feast your eyes! (Also from William Poundstone.)

Harry Stephen Keeler Webwork Diagram


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