My Name is Russell Fink and the Quirky Genre

My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder is a recent novel out in the Christian market.  It’s a quirky novel and I mean that in a good way. If Quirk was a genre this would be in it. Quirky like Napoleon Dynamite, or Darjeeling Limited, or Miranda July, or My Life as a Smashed Burrito With Extra Hot Sauce. Stellar quirkiness utilizes humor to cripple the reader with emotion. Donald Miller does this well (here).

Synder’s debut novel is at times laugh out loud hilarious. It’s cast of crazy and weird characters and its unimaginable situations make it for an enjoyable read.   Here‘s where you can read a sample chapter.  And here’s my favorite passage:

          We kept circling the city. No one slept. Our captain chimed in periodically to reassure us. But the know-it-all had predicted we’d be out of fuel in forty-five minutes. That was nearly an hour ago. Conversations dried up, except for an occasional nervous whisper. I closed my eyes and tried to remember how to pray.   

  But my thoughts drifted. It dawned on me that since Katie’s funeral, my whole life had been just like this, a holding pattern. I’d spent the last decade and a half going in circles, hovering, marking time, waiting for tragedy to strike. All the while, life happened on the other side of the clouds. I jolted awake when the plane’s tires thumped onto the tarmac. Somehow I’d managed to stave off my date with destiny by nodding off.


Half way through the novel I thought that quirk didn’t work. Scenes combined humor and melancholy and ended up being lighthearted and frivolous instead of touching or moving. But the second half wrapped it all together and I even teared up at one point. If you’re in a Christian book store pick it up or get it here.



4 thoughts on “My Name is Russell Fink and the Quirky Genre

  1. there are not enough words to describe how much i love napolean dynamite. so i caught you a delicious bass to show my enthusiasm.

    i am so glad you used the word quirky. i have always said i like “unusual”, “strange” or “off the wall” movies and books but quirky is the word! i always wonder if people “get me” now i will just say “i am quirky, thank you very much.”

    i just watched a clip of “the darjeeling limited” and laughed out loud about 6 times in 2.59 minutes. i am renting/buying it for this weekend. those kinds of movies don’t get as much publicity – so i am glad you mentioned it here.

    have you seen, “the life aquatic” or “lost in translation”. “the lover” is good – not funny – but strange and lonely and deep. if you liked “memoirs of a geisha” you would probably like it – except its a completely different kind of story line.

    i can never remember all the movies and stories i love, the kind that would reveal more about me – i should write them down.

    love miranda july – i plan to see “you, me and everyone we know” – i still don’t get that “icanjapan” thing on her webpage though. i’ve listened to it like 4 times now.

    read “blue like jazz” twice. the first time it pissed me off. but i was on an emotional roll-a-coaster at the time. the second time i loved it and donald miller. i realized i was just like don. have you ever heard that people who are alot like you can annoy you sometimes? i think maybe it was too revealing for me the first time i read it.

    ok. i said all that to get to this point. i am going to read russell fink next – i need a quirky and upbeat kinda story 😉

  2. RC,

    Hey, I followed the breadcrumbs from my blog to yours and just want to say a big heartfelt Thank You for saying nice stuff about my book!

    And especially how you singled out that passage about Russell on a plane. That’s one of my favorites too. I’m also a fan of Napolean Dynamite and Miranda July (she has THE best author website ever), so hearing you make those comparisons makes my heart all jittery and my legs turn to goo.

    And Jennifer, if you drop back by…thanks in advance for reading Russell as well. Based on some of the movies you mentioned, check out The Station Agent (if you haven’t already). Pop some popcorn, erase all your expectations, then hit play. It’s a brilliant film.

    Thanks again, ladies.


  3. Hah, I ended that last one with ‘ladies’…sorry RC. That’s what happens when I type this late…or rather, blame it on Demetri Martin…ladies.

    Thanks again. And feel free to call me a girl too if you want.


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