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The Franchiser

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Ben Flesh is one of the men "who made America look like America, who
made America famous." He collects franchises, traveling from state to
state, acquiring the brand-name establishments that shape the American
landscape. But both the nation and Ben are running out of energy. As
blackouts roll through the West, Ben struggles with the onset of
multiple sclerosis, and the growing
...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1976)
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Jonathan
Elkin is my comfort food, my junk-comfort food - all those lovely flamboyant calorie-filled sentences that fly by and tickle me in all the right places.

I have loved others of his more than this, which felt a little unsubtle and obvious in its satire at times, but would still recommend it without hesitation.

Krok Zero
An amazing panoply of rants, gags, absurdities, theses, vignettes; an overwhelming orgy of language, a brilliant exercise in aestheticized awareness; a spirited allegory of bicentennial America, the Great Gatsby of the '70s; a set of outrageous comic conceits, ever-expanding, shocking, puzzling — yet not a cartoon, always inclusive of a wide range of authentic human experience to transform, mangle, mock or respect. Stanley Elkin: the funniest great American novelist or the greatest funny America ...more
MJ Nicholls
This frustrated and tickled me in equal measure. I adored the frenetic pace, the comedic chutzpah and cartwheeling craziness in the manner of Ishmael Reed or D. Keith Mano’s Take Five. The language was serpentine, maximal and gushed out like golden fonts from a tyke’s diaper (or nappy, if you’re British, which you aren’t, are you?) BUT. And here’s a big but . . . I like big buts and I cannot lie. This exhaustive style, in today’s hypertwitchy reading world, lends itself to the weary page-scan, t ...more
Vit Babenco
Consumerism is evil. The more we consume the emptier we become. Consumption and hedonism corrupt personality, society and culture. The Franchiser is a tale of the ultimate consumerism that turns the main character into the human pulp.
“Thus, ends are justified by means, since all means, if they work, are ultimately equal, that is, efficient. It is only ends which are unequal. We would both agree that some ends are nobler than others. Since means are interchangeable then, it is only ends which eve
...more
Scott
"Past the orange roof and turquoise tower, past the immense sunburst of the green and yellow sign, past the golden arches, beyond the low buff building, beside the discrete hut, the dark top hat on the studio window shade, beneath the red and white longitudes of the enormous bucket, coming up to the thick shaft of the yellow arrow piercing the royal-blue field, he feels he is at home. Is it Nashville? Elmira, New York? St. Louis County? A Florida key? The Illinois arrowhead? Indiana like a holst ...more
Matthew
Jun 28, 2007 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody still sober on words
Elkin's a master of the huckster's cant, everything always lurching into the transcendent ecstasis of the mundane. I always like visiting this fantasy palace he built out of 2x4s and three-penny nails, where the impure and the average are exalted, where the implausible voice is the only thing to hang onto, where the characters spin wildly out of control in the still-steady hands of an author who always knew what the hell was really going on.

He was a mean old son of a bitch, in the words of a fri
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R.
Since the conclusion of hostilities in the American Civil War, that mysterious "they" that throw the levers and push the buttons that make the country run, that "they" has pursued the single minded goal of transforming the United States from a plural mass to a singular amalgamation. No longer is the United States an "are" it has become an "is". Fueled by the efficiency of one size fits all retail America, driving through Dodge City is driving through Tallahassee is driving through Amarillo is dr ...more
Rand
Novel as manic excess of Americana made taut by the panic of existence.

In what other book does the main character lick Colonel Sanders's fingers and then proceed to discuss authenticity with the Chicken Prince?

Moments of sheer hilarity, (very) brief interludes of tedium punctuated by brilliance following still yet more brilliance. Elkin's consummate style is sustained throughout. If you've read any of his other books, you'll want to read this one too. One character from another of his novels eve
...more
Oyster
Ben Flesh’s fictional quest to open fast food and electronics stores across the US in the 1970’s takes a nose-dive when the business becomes too big to manage. Both a critique of consumerism and an empathetic nod to people’s futile desire to carve out their own legacy, this is a satire of the highest pedigree.
Justin
A lightly ironic panegyric that seems the literary equivalet Road Runner #2, the stars and the radio towers, the highway your girlfriend, the magic powered bleakness, the weird giddiness that come from smoking too much fluorescence, etc. This is not surprising given both were written during the seventies. Plot revolves around one Ben Flesh, entrepeneur and 'franchiser' (or 'Franchisee' as Col.Sanders indignantly asserts at one point), one of the many invisible hands behind America's surburbaniz ...more
Andrew
Jun 08, 2007 Andrew rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: MBAs
It's got a milder form of that great blend of deep bitterness and extreme humor that make Gaddis' JR so good. Business and money + the ridiculousness of America. The language is abrasive in the best way. He describes a pistol trigger hanging like a visible genital on the first page.

Absurd and accurate
Al
Aug 10, 2009 Al marked it as half-reading  ·  review of another edition
I'm not so far along, but basically a course in pyrotechnic minutae and bitterly oral love of language. Just my style.

Nice foreword by William Gass; hail to Dalkey Archive.

Rendier
Verbal diarhea in some parts, but a stunning example of what can be done with the English language in others.
Tyler
Torrents of words, an exuberance of language, both exhilarating and exhausting.
Erik
A dazzling wordsmith and satirist. I must read more of his work!
John
Elwin's prose is brilliant. Epic and surreal, really enjoyable.
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Stanley Lawrence Elkin was a Jewish American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. His extravagant, satirical fiction revolves around American consumerism, popular culture, and male-female relationships.

During his career, Elkin published ten novels, two volumes of novellas, two books of short stories, a collection of essays, and one (unproduced) screenplay. Elkin's work revolves about Americ
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