Thursday, November 24, 2022

Christine Brooke-Rose, Between (1968)

I was not kidding when I said I was going to follow up the Freddy marathon with "some bristly, avant-garde fiction."  I've been neglecting Brooke-Rose, but she's still one of my favorites, and here's the third book from the Christine Brooke-Rose Omnibus.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Dragon (1958)

So...there is Crime in Centerboro: people's stuff is getting stolen, and businesses are being forced to pay protection money.  People suspect Freddy and, no joke, some of them want to lynch him.  Jesus, Brooks.  What are you doing?  Well, they figure out the gang's deal.  It's led by some random dude named Jack who barely appears and gets literally no dialogue (he's briefly seen disguised as a headless horseman, hence the cover).  Well, they stop him.  And his gang.  The “dragon” is a Chinese-dragon-type contraption built by Uncle Ben to help this kid have a circus—the same kid who appeared in another book way near the beginning of the series; I can't remember.  We also meet Percy, the cows' father, who's all rude and stuff until Samuel Jackson the mole, hiding underground, poses as his conscience and gets him to change his rude, rude ways.  It's pretty silly (and there's essentially no father-daughter drama, if that's what you're after).  Anyway, that's about that.  Oh yeah, did I mention the barely-there subplot where there's a kitten who wants Jinx to teach her to purr and this is like one paragraph and then it's very briefly mentioned again at the end and that's ALL?  Doesn't feel like Brooks' heart was necessarily in it, though that may just have been his body giving out.  This was published posthumously.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans (1957)

Okay, staggering towards the finish the spite of the “flying saucer” right there in the title, you wouldn't really call this “science fiction” except incidentally.  This is actually...I suppose a “spy novel,” if anything.  The idea is that after people saw how powerful the Martians' flying saucer was, everyone wanted to get their hands on it and the Martians just got sick of it all and fucked off back to Mars.  But Uncle Ben, being a genius, has written up plans to make one of his own to provide the US with, I suppose, a Space Force avant la lettre.  But oh no!  Foreign Spies want the plans for their own nefarious purposes!  So to get rid of them, our heroes concoct a scheme where Freddy pretends to steal the plans, only actually he steals fake plans and lets the spies steal them.  Is he worried about his reputation?  Well, “any good American would sacrifice his reputation to get flying saucers for his country.”  All right then.  This is made difficult by the fact that there are actually spies from tons of different countries (I believe seventeen is the number specified), and they're all trying to stop one another, so it's hard to get the plans to just one.  But Freddy does, only to have it revealed that, oops, Ben actually gave him the REAL plans.  JESUS CHRIST, Ben.  So now we gotta get that back, which for some unclear reason involves Freddy disguising himself as a gypsy woman (hoo boy).  It should've been revealed in the ending that the “real” plans still didn't work.  That woulda made the whole thing admittedly kind of funny, if trolly.

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