May 21, 2003

National Lampoon's Doon, by Ellis Weiner

After reading the Barry Trotter parody, I was wondering whether perhaps my standards were too high. Sure, it wasn't Bored of the Rings, but the granddaddy of all fantasy parodies did have the advantage of being first. Possibly I'd even built it up too much.

And then I read this book, a parody of Frank Herbert's Dune, and realized that, no, there really was a difference between a good parody and a lame attempt. Mind you, Doon is no Bored of the Rings either.

It's better.

This is a lighter and faster read than its predecessor, which makes it all the more impressive how well it sends up Herbert's classic. This is a world in which the ecology features giant pretzels and beer... and granting the plausibility of animate pretzels, the whole thing actually makes sense, and does a neat job of playing off the ecology and plot of the original work. Still, every time it starts to seem as if the parody is a bit too pat, Weiner pivots around and unexpectedly challenges the reader's expectations. He also does a lovely job of satirizing Herbert's stylistic excesses, including the portentious interior monologues. For that matter, the Hebrew and Arabic word derivations of the original are here replaced with Yiddish and Variety-speak.

This is sadly out of print, but affordable copies can be found on Bookfinder.Com. If you haven't read Dune, don't bother; otherwise, it has my recommendation.

Posted by Shmuel at 7:07 PM

April 12, 2003

Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody, by Michael Gerber

[I never got around to writing this entry. In a nutshell, while there were a few cute bits in this parody, on the whole, I wasn't very impressed.]

Posted by Shmuel at 11:06 PM

March 30, 2003

Giggling Into the Pillow, by Chris Bridges

Let's start with the admission of bias: partway through reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'm in it. Well, sort of. One of the pieces herein -- "A Tall Tale" -- features a fictionalized version of me, and the real version is referred to in the notes preceding and following the piece, albeit using the psuedonym I worked under when I worked for Clean Sheets. It's not the best piece in the book by a long shot, but I still find it gratifying.

(Incidentally, I did write a followup to that story at the time... I might be induced to repost the thing, if asked.)

Anyway, this is that rare case in which the cover really does give you a good idea of what you're in for, perhaps because it was designed by the author. The dominant image is of a nude, reclining woman... wearing Groucho Marx glasses. "Finally, a book about sex that's funny on purpose!" proclaims the blurb just above her. Indeed.

This book is a collection of various pieces Chris has written over the years, mostly for his own site devoted to humor and sexuality, Hoot Island. (Warning: probably not a work-safe link.)

[I never did get around to finishing this entry. I liked the book a lot. There's a blurb page here.]

Posted by Shmuel at 11:43 PM

January 7, 2003

Syrup, by Maxx Barry

A fun, light read, more than a little trashy, with flashes of wit. Not very substantial, but a nice diversion for the start of this trip.

Posted by Shmuel at 12:58 AM