This short book is, in two words, surprisingly heartfelt. In just a few short pages Knoebel creates a fascinating world populated by a cast of strange yet wonderful characters all of whom readers will alternately hate and love throughout the story. It asks the question ‘What is important in life?’ without disparaging any particular path. In the end, it reveals a world where people just get by the best they can. In any other story it would be incredibly easy to view the characters as flat, single purpose tropes, e.g. Charles as the uptight, workaholic deadbeat dad. Knoebel does such an excellent job of revealing the humanity in each of his characters though, it is impossible to box any of them in so crudely.
Let’s start with a look at Charles. Charles is, in fact, an uptight workaholic deadbeat, but underneath he is worn out, loving, and just incredibly devoted to his daughter. Likewise, at first Christina comes off as the typical ‘live in the moment, free-spirited woman who will help our hero realize what’s important in life’ trope. Again, Knoebel does a fantastic job of cutting through the bullshit to show that she does have a real heart and worries and problems and deep down she just wants to help. The Chef is a dick, but also a romantic who loves his girlfriend deeply and worries for her safety. He is a dick because that’s how he knows how to help. If I could sum up the characters of this novella in one sentence, it would simply state that all of them are decent people trudging through life the best they know how. They all have flaws, but ultimately they mean well. Except maybe the unicorn. I’m still not sure what to think of him.
The world itself is vibrant and fantastic without undermining the reality of it. Charles goes to the Flats and learns to look beneath the grime and criminal reputation of the district revealing a community of real live people just like him. However, the Flats are still dangerous and dirty, and I still don’t want to live there. The meshing of magical and reality creates a world and a story that on the surface conforms to every Hollywood trope out there, then rips away all preconceived notions of what this place is and what this story means. Yes, the Flats are magical. No, they are not really what Charles has been missing in his life.
The wonderfully passive deconstructive aspect of the writing alone makes this novella fully worth the $0.99 it costs for Kindle and more. It holds more about life in its 46 pages than many books ten times that length. If you have a half-hour to kill, there aren’t many better ways than to do it than with The Wrong Way to Feed A Unicorn.
Note: The unicorn is potty mouthed and the story is made for adults, but there is nothing I would consider inappropriate content for children in this book. It simply may not arouse their interest as well as it will an adult’s.
You can buy it for Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wrong-Feed-Unicorn-ebook/dp/B00BEBHMQY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Author’s homepage: http://christianknoebel.com/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheWrongWayToFeedAUnicorn