Disturbingly Normal Decoded

Disturbingly Normal, by J.D. Lenzen
Being Normal

Jonathan Normal is one of those enigmatic characters that nearly all of us have either known or been at some time in our lives. Inexplicably depressed, yet gregarious. Thoughtful, yet blind to his own nature. Jonathan was born of a pall that hovered over Lenzen during his teens and twenties. The embodiment of a melancholy man who had nothing specific to attribute his melancholy to. That is, until he encounters the body of Robert Ray Lewis—a corpse he viciously bludgeons while working as a mortuary driver. Fleeing the memory of his uncharacteristically brutal act, Jonathan unwittingly sets off on a psychic adventure into his past. An adventure of healing modeled after a journey Lenzen himself took, that led him from the depths of his depression to a place of solace and greater understanding.

Disturbingly Normal Artwork
Guiding the Pilgrim

Each chapter of Disturbingly Normal is marked by the presence of a different person or persons, who either coax secrets out of Jonathan or press him further along on his journey. These guides are, for the most part, unaware of Jonathan's collective insights, yet individually they provide puzzle pieces that are critical to his final moment of insight. Throughout Lenzen's personal life, similar guides led him through life's uncertain times. In turn, each stage of Jonathan's adventure is inspired by a specific person Lenzen knew or a classic archetype he admires.

The Route

The route Jonathan takes to reach his destination of uncommon insight is a real one. Further, the places Jonathan visits are actual Disturbingly Normal Route Map places. Primarily reached by way of Highway 101, a reader could retrace Jonathan's footsteps and see the same places he saw. Better yet, if one was inspired to do so, reading Disturbingly Normal while driving this route would make for a viscerally engaging experience of the book.

Crossing Over

In Chapter three of Disturbingly Normal ("The Catalyst") a character named Carla leaves Jonathan's side and walks onto the pages of Soft Candy. The timelines of the two books overlap, and both Saint Swithin (Soft Candy) and Jonathan (Disturbingly Normal) attend the same outdoor dance party called the Reunion. So if you're curious what happens to Carla when she leaves the scene in Disturbingly Normal, check out Chapter twenty-five of Soft Candy.

Artist R. Black The Collaboration

R. Black's artistic career was fostered in San Diego, a city segmented by deep canyons and hills that neatly partition a multitude of alternative dance and bar communities. Leading the resurgence of gig and event poster art that was sprouting out of Southern California in the early 2000's, Black has since redefined the genre for a new generation. Lenzen and Black first met in 2005 at a club in San Francisco (shortly after Black moved to the Bay Area). A mutual acquaintance introduced them and they've been close friends ever since. Although they regularly find themselves locked down by their respective project work, they both make time for periodic coffeehouse conversations, during which they exchange many highfalutin ideas about stuff and things. Black is the illustrator of the chapter images for Disturbingly Normal (his first literary collaboration), and is the go-to artist for all Lenzen's bookwork.