Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My parents were now a dim Italian and a performing monkey

Puppet Shows is a collection of short stories. It reads like someone just recorded every fever dream they had and then put them together in a book. Whether or not that sounds like something you'd like to read is up to you.

Personally, I'm not a fan of listening to other people's dreams, in the real world or in books. Maybe it's because I have trouble following them, or because they aren't nearly as interesting to the listener as they were to the dreamer.* I think it's the following thing mostly the "I can't follow them" thing because there is no logic to them. Things just happen and then suddenly something else happens and then a third thing happens that is unrelated to the first two things, the end.

As I said, the book is a collection of short stories, which is always difficult for me to review. Normally I review a couple of the stories. But these stories sort of blend together.(by being a series of non-sequiturs, not because they all reference each other) so I'll try to take this collection on as a whole.

The stories actually started out normal enough. Well as normal as a story about a boy raised by a talking racist monkey and an Italian organ grinder stereotype after his drunk and abusive Klingon loving father spontaneously combusted, leaving him an orphan. Yes, that's the part of the story I could follow. You tell me that this is the story, fine, I can get behind it. Maybe set up a few rules so I can follow this twisted world, but I can get behind this. But there are no rules and there is no reason and suddenly a guy having an awkward dinner with his racist grandfather when General Tso appears out of no where and murders the old man. And that's it. Story over. There's no rules and no explanation and I spent a lot of this book dealing with literary whiplash as I tried to catch up. Eventually I realized there was nothing to catch up to. I was there, I just had no idea where "there" was.

After finishing the series I read a couple people refer to the stories as "slapstick" and similar to a Punch and Judy play. I an see that. At least from what I know of Punch and Judy, which isn't much. There's a lot of violence but it's so ridiculous it's nothing you can take seriously. That doesn't mean I'm enjoying it, just that it isn't disturbing violence. It's like watching The Three Stooges. If you find them funny, this might be the thing for you. Maybe. I know as much about the Stooges as I do about P&J so, yeah.

For example, there are lines like this, which happen during a strange dinner party with a couple doctors and patients:
"Doctor Milano noticed three men bouncing around the room, hooting like Daffy Duck, until Doctor Rossi hit one on the head with a frying pan and shot the other two with a tranquilizer gun."

So yeah, if you like slapstick violence, crazy non-sequiturs, and a general feeling that you're listening to the rambling fever dreams of someone tripping, this could be a book for you! Unfortunately, it was not the bok for me.

*Please read the Cracked list 5 Things You Love to Discuss That Nobody Else Cares About to see I'm not alone in this.

Title quote from page 9

Frissore, Michael. Puppet Shows. AMuse Me Publishing, 2012. ebook. I agreed to read this in exchange for an honest review.