Saturday, September 24, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy the Cowboy (1950)

This one feels less plot-heavy than most; there is a central conflict, but the whole thing is more slice-of-life than usual.  Pretty chill.  So all the animals, feeling at loose ends, head in different directions to find adventure.  Freddy finds a guy named Flint who's abusing his horse, Cy, so Freddy buys him to emancipate him, and Cy, being a cowboy horse—Flint runs a wild-west show/camp thing—teaches Freddy the ropes.  In the meantime, we meet a bunch of rabbit disguised as monsters, called the “Horrible Ten”—look, it would be too convoluted to explain how they come to be.  But this Flint character?  He wants to rob the animals' bank!  No!  Well, they stop him and scare him away, but he still has it in for Freddy, so something's gonna have to be done about that.

You do have to wonder why it would be worthwhile to bother with robbing the bank—it's mostly just squirrels storing their acorns and stuff.  Everybody is anxious—Bill is afraid they might steal some old boots he'd been saving to chew on!—but seriously, the only thing that could possibly be of any interest to a thief has to be whatever money Freddy's put away from his detective jobs, which can't amount to more than a few hundred dollars on the outside.  Well, I say that, but Flint remarks that “they say he even owns some property—a couple of houses.”  Um...do they?  If they do and he does, these acquisitions have occurred entirely off-page and never been alluded to in any way to this point.  Personally, I don't think it's a good idea to let the stories get large-scale like that—like Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, the small-scale stuff tends to be more interesting.  

(Also, it's kind of weird that Freddy has a horse now.  What do the Beans think of having to care for this new animal that isn't exactly theirs?  Animals with animals is something that's never come up 'til now)

One thing I've thought a number of times in reading these books is that it's kind of weird that there have been absolutely no bat characters.  For a farm and surrounding wooded environs, it seems natural.  Well, my heartfelt prayers are answered now, as we meet Sydney, who lives in Hank's barn and, with his friends and relations, is instrumental in stopping Flint.  Hooray!  Also, Jinx is racist against bats: “'I haven't any use for bats,' Jinx said.  'Why can't they make up their minds to be either animals or birds—not just stay in between?'  Come on, Jinx.  Get it together.

The book does suffer a little bit by introducing a few characters that it then does very little with: there's a squirrel named  Taffy who likes to get animals caught in a trap and extort food out of them for their release, and there's a mouse named Howard who's good at evading traps.  But we get very little of them, especially the former.  Also, Jinx remarks: “Squirrels disagree with me.  It's the fur, I think.  Tickles going down.”  COME ON, Brooks!  Jinx doesn't eat birds, mice, now squirrels, what the hell DOES he eat?!?  Let's be serious!

Check this out: “There was an old guitar in the Bean attic.  Before they were married, Mr. Bean used to serenade Mrs. Bean on it.”  There's an image for you.  Also, this is pretty funny: 

He put on a red and green checked suit that Mr. Bean had once bought in Paris but had never had the nerve to wear.  Mrs. Bean had cut it down for Freddy.  It wasn't very becoming, but at least he didn't look like a pig in it.  I don't know what he did look like.

Ooh!  Also!  For much of the book the Beans are off visiting relatives, which, we learn at the end, turns out to be Aunt Effie (and Uncle Snedeker, presumably)!  From Freddy's Cousin Weedly!  This is the first we've heard hide or hair of her since then.

I really like the vaguely absurdist climax of the book, where Flint is chasing Freddy, and they end up in a department store.  This passage give you the flavor:

“I don't think there is anything on this floor that would interest you, sir,” he said.  “May I show you to the sporting goods department?”

“I don't know why the sporting goods department would want to have me shown to them,” Freddy said. . . . “Haven't you got any back stairs to this place?”

“Stairs?” said Mr. Metacarpus, looking puzzled.  “I'm sorry, sir, we only have ladies' wear up here: coats and suits, dresses; cosmetics over there in Aisle F—”

“I don't want to buy stairs, Metacarpus,” said Freddy angrily.  “I want you to put 'em under me, so I can go down 'em.”

The dialogue there feels almost Naked-Gun-esque.  I groove to it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

The cover looks rad but it appears Freddy has no legs. Perhap he is ment to be to short and is only stending on the horse with his legs hidden underthe costume but... um... no his arms are long enough to use the gun and the odd whip gun. Hum... I'm confused.

1:10 AM  
Blogger GeoX, who is here to stay, like it or not. pontificated to the effect that...

I hadn't noticed that, but you're not wrong. Looks like Wiese might've slipped up a bit there.

3:44 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

Or if that's his leg then it's in the same color as the saddle so it blends and dosen't read as such... any way, something of about it.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Thomas pontificated to the effect that...

There's a boot in the stirrup, but otherwise it looks like Kurt Wiese is cheating on this one.
I think Freddy has very short legs.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

Wait... I just notice that the mouses are pulling the string to MAKE US THINK HE IS HITING THE CANS RATHER THEN ACTUALY SHOOTING THEM!!! THIS ENTIRE PICTURE IS A LIE!

I don't know what to belive any more! Life of cynical nihilism and alcocholic depression here I go...

11:39 AM  
Blogger GeoX, who is here to stay, like it or not. pontificated to the effect that...

I don't know what to tell you--that IS an accurate depiction of events in the book, but I understand if you can never trust again.

11:42 PM  

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