The Toy Collector

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The Toy Collector

The Toy Collector is a novel written by James Gunn, published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2000. It is the story of a hospital orderly who steals drugs from the hospital which he sells to help keep his toy collection habit alive.

Although the work is fictional, the name of the protagonist is James Gunn, and Gunn admits many of the situations in the novel are from his actual life. While admitting that the majority of the novel's events are not strictly factual, Gunn maintains that the book is "true." It is "honest," he says, implying that stories that don't correspond to actual events are capable of achieving a truth just as valid as an assertion of objective fact.

The novel flashes back and forth between the character Gunn's drug-addled, sexually abusive adult life, and his life among his childhood friends. Furthermore, we see the lives of Gunn's childhood toys—from Rom, Spaceknight to the Fisher-Price Little People, who seem to have lives and thoughts of their own outside Gunn's world. This mix of fact and fiction and reality and fantasy makes the novel popular among many who like postmodern fiction. Because of the black comedy of the book, and the extreme, graphic situations it presents, and the small group of devotees who sing its praises, it is a cult novel popular among those who enjoy transgressive fiction.

Though Gunn started as a novelist after he wrote and associate directed a film, he became much more successful as a screenwriter of films like 2004's Dawn of the Dead and the writer-director of Slither. Although Gunn works in the film industry he has turned down numerous offers for the film rights of the novel, stating that he's uncomfortable with it becoming something other than a book.


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