The country of Inner Horner is so small that only one person can stand inside at one time; it happens to have seven residents, six of all who have to sit in a sort of holding pen while someone else is within the country. Unexpectedly, the country’s boundary changes, shrinking it to a quarter of its original size, therefore anyone standing in it is straddling the border into the surrounding country, Outer Horner.
This absurd concept it the premise for George Saunders’ satirical novella, in which the eponymous “Phil”, from Outer Horner claims that the Inner Hornerians are attempting to invade, and proceeds to force the outsiders to pay taxes, which includes taking their clothes as payment.
The story just gets more and more surreal as it goes on, including Phil’s brain allegedly falling off his “brain rack”, and a “creator” who reaches down from the sky to dismember civilians, plus a bizarre section that covers a meeting between Phil and the President.
The pace of the story moves very fast, and it is a little difficult to understand at times, but I found it incredibly funny at times too, and it was the ridiculous concept that attracted me to read this in the first place.
This probably won’t be to all tastes, but anyone with a fondness for stuff that it completely off the wall should give this a go.
Next book: Joyland (Stephen King)