Sunday, February 12, 2012
It’s been well over 30 years since I’ve read this book. Found it while in my Army School in Fort Sam Houston in the summer of 1979.
I didn’t get the joke about this book at the time I found it. For all I knew, Kilgore Trout was a real person and this was some long-lost underground classic in a newly published form. There was a list of books mentioned in the first few pages that were supposedly written by the reclusive Trout. I bought it hook, line and sinker because I didn’t know any better. Such was the innocence of my youth.
Well, at the risk of shattering all YOUR illusions about this – in case you’re a young ‘un who has no clue – “Kilgore Trout” is the name of the main character in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, “Breakfast of Champions”. He was never a real person and the author’s photograph is of someone else wearing a false beard. I actually thought it was a picture of a dog wearing a hat and glasses.
VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL was actually written by the legendary Philip Jose Farmer. It was intended to launch a number of books, under the Trout name, but I understand that there was a falling out between Farmer and Vonnegut and the joke that started with this novel also ended with it.
This is one I will have to re-visit at some point. I think it was a space comedy, but do not recall it being “fall-down funny” like, say, Douglas Adams’ THE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. To me, HITCH-HIKER’S is the gold standard of galactic humor books. VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL, at most, is the forgotten uncle of this genre.
Like HITCH-HIKER’S, VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL deals with the answer to a question that has mystified mankind almost since its inception. When you discover the answer to the question in question (ha!), you will either laugh about it or be pissed off. But at least you will feel SOMETHING. Trout/Farmer can certainly push one’s buttons within the context of the storyline. It’s up to you whether you think this was an overlooked masterpiece or a waste of your time. I tend to lean toward the masterpiece theory.
I think that this is the only Mel Brooks movie that I have not found on DVD. Not even sure I saw it on VHS, come to think of it. But I sure DO remember seeing it in theaters. The only person who gets to utter a line of dialogue is mime Marcel Marceau. Talk about irony.
With a title like this you would think this book could be about everyone running for political office nowadays. Too bad you’re wrong, because I would agree with you otherwise.
The cover really says it all, so I need not expound here. If you find it and read it, you will feel better about knowing that you are of superior intelligence compared to these afterbirths.
This is the follow-up CD to Hayseed Dixie’s A HILLBILLY TRIBUTE TO AC/DC. All those kick-ass rock and roll songs done bluegrass style. You haven’t really lived until you’ve heard it.
Anyway, A HILLBILLY TRIBUTE TO MOUNTAIN LOVE is more of the same, except different groups are worshipped at the outhouse altar here. It has a DELIVERANCE nirvana feel to it all without having to have Ned Beatty over for dinner.
THE PERFECT WOMAN and the ultra-bitter, yet funny I’M KEEPING YOUR POOP are the standouts as they are Hayseed Dixie originals.
Maybe in the future Hayseed Dixie will consider doing hard metal versions of the music of Stringbean or Grandpa Jones. Just a thought.
Interesting that a fictional character gets his own “Wit & Wisdom” book. President Kennedy got one. Nixon didn’t, neither did George “Dubya”; come to think of it, we didn’t see any book like this about anyone in the Third Reich, so let’s count our blessings, shall we?
It was hard to dislike Archie Bunker. Sure he was a bigot, but he was so stupid about it that even those he intended to offend could love him anyway.
More wacky, kooky comedy from the hilarious Simpson/Goldman murders. Think this one disappeared from shelves quickly.