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.

Not with a bang but a whimper, I have to say.  This book is smaller-scale than its immediate predecessors—more like a “normal” Freddy book in that sense—but it goes too far the other way: this is really the most slight, insubstantial-feeling book in the series.  The definition of superfluity, though I was surprised to find that, on reading them, there were actually a few things in this one that I very vaguely remembered, including the very last line in the series:  “But they never did recover Mrs. Peppercorn's bicycle.”  Of course, at the time I had no sense of what order the books were written in, so I didn't realize that was how we were going out.  But...it was.  I don't know what to say, really.

What a long strange trip it's been.  Time to read some bristly, avant-garde fiction as a palate-cleanser.  I was very happy to revisit these books, but if I ever want to do it again, I will definitely remember to stop after Freddy Rides Again.


Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

Happy that you manage to get to the end of this Quest. Shame it had to be (from what you describe) the poorest entry in the series.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Thomas pontificated to the effect that...

Congratulations on completing your review series! I kinda expected you to trail off after a couple of books, but you made it all the way through to the very end of the road. I happily consumed all of your reviews and I'm equally happy to say that I will probably never read any of the novels. But it's good to know that they exist, to understand that they're sort of a cultural touchstone in the USA and to have a general idea what they're about. Thank you!

5:35 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

I appreciate that. I'm honestly not clear to what extent they're a cultural touchstone. Certainly a lot of people remember them fondly, but the lack of any kind of ancillary products suggests that maybe their cultural presence is a bit limited. Hard to say.

As far as worst book, I think it's kind of a toss-up between this, Baseball Team from Mars, and Flying Saucer Plans. A real drop-off in quality in any case, alas.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

Before this blog I never heared about these books (and as I mentioned, I did checked and few where transalted into Polishs so they are popular enough) I don't think a movie/cartoon/browday musical is some status symbol for book series, but it is interesting for something this old and popular feels unique. There is possibility that Brooks simply didn't want any adaptations and his estate respected these wishes.
(Still "Humphrey Bogart is Mr. Bean" would make some hadline.)

I am however familiar with Mr.Ed by the same creator as the show run in Poland many times years ago.

Still, I'm glad I discover this series and I feel reacher in my knowledge of American literature.

1:04 PM  

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