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A House Boat on the Styx
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A House Boat on the Styx

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Charon, the Ferryman of renown, was cruising slowly along the Styx one pleasant Friday morning not long ago, and as he paddled idly on he chuckled mildly to himself as he thought of the monopoly in ferriage which in the course of years he had managed to build up. "It's a great thing," he said, with a smirk of satisfaction - "it's a great thing to be the go-between between ...more
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1895)
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Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) was an American humorist who edited some popular American magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and Puck. His satirical novella A House-Boat on the Styx is responsible for the term Bangsian Fantasy, which refers to stories about famous people in the afterlife (e.g., Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series).

In A House-Boat on the Styx, Charon the ferryman is dismayed to discover that he’s got some competition in the transportation
A witty, entertaining, and wryly humorous book. A quick read, great for a weekend or roadtrip, and not hard or slow to get through at all. I also listened to it via free audiobook on Librivox, and it was definitely a book well-suited to audio adaptation, as almost all of it is dramatic dialogue between famous people. I would add, however, that it definitely helped to be familiar with literature/history, & classic philosophy, as it added to my understanding of the jokes and caricatures of the ...more
I picked this out at random on Librivox one day and am SO glad I did. It is composed, as the title says, of stories about, yes, a houseboat on the River Styx which turns out to be a men's club for various famous dead people (mostly men). The master of ceremonies is Sir Walter Raleigh; members include Shakespeare, Baron Munchhausen and Noah., among others. In addition to the typical men's club activites (i.e., playing cards, shooting billiards, smoking, and drinking) they also discuss things like ...more
I came across this during my quest to read every humour book ever written. Some brief thoughts:

1) This might be one of the earliest instances of 'fan-fiction'. Reading this felt eerily similar to watching "Sherlock".

2) It's only occasionally funny. Humour is limited to pseudo-witty remarks and puns or references to the histories of the characters. It feels lazily constructed (but then again, this is basically a book about idle celebrities). Not my style.

3) All the characters sound the same. We n
Michael Burns
This is an odd yet amusing book. The story is literally about a house-boat on the river Styx. Charon is at first angered over the fact that a house-boat appears and threatens the monopoly he has enjoyed for eons. He quickly forgives the trespassers when the Associated Shades employee him on the boat as the janitor. The boat houses famous poets, artist, sculptors, and political figures now on the other side of life. At one point Shakespeare is stabbed with a billiard's stick by Nero, at another B ...more
I listened to the recording of this book.
The first description I read made it sound like the book would be about Charon, but that was just the first chapter. Although there were some lines that made me laugh, the rest seemed to just be "What would historical character X say to historical character Y if they were to talk at a social club?"
Megan Cullen
Absolutely awesome. A literary drug trip with famous poets, philospophers, and more. In my opinion, stream of consciousness at its most fun.

Some will find this borning and hard to slog through. But if you like the idea of a bunch of cool dead people hanging out to chat and argue on a river boat, this is definitely for you. ;)
Robin Ganderton
Because I've finished term for Easter and because I am hungover, I allowed myself a treat, and this was it. I love this book. It created a genre - Bangsian fiction - which is a story set almost or entirely in the afterlife. Its short and hilarious and avaialable on Gutenberg, what more can one ask for?
Loved it! It ended too quickly. Good thing there are a couple of sequels. This is satirical humor at it's best. In this age of a preponderance of mediocre writers, going back and visiting some excellent classic writing such as this is like a taking a cool drink on a hot day. Completely satisfying.
Kat  Hooper
John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) was an American humorist who edited some popular American magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and Puck. His satirical novella A House-Boat on the Styx is responsible for the term Bangsian Fantasy, which refers to stories about famous people in the afterlife (e.g., Philip Jose Farmer’s RIVERWORLD series).

In A House-Boat on the Styx, Charon the ferryman is dismayed to discover that he’s got some competition in the transportation business — a posh new riverboat has app
Yi Chen Chong
Funny. Epic. Adventure.
In this book, a house-boat appears on the River Styx, which connects Hades to the Earth, and it talks of all the dead people talking and sharing about their lives. These people include, Noah (The Bible), Shakespeare, Bacon, Confucius, etc. I really liked it, because it was hilarious.
Perry Whitford
Whimsical, delightful little Victorian fantasy which pitches some of the world's most famous statesmen and artists together in a private member's club floating on the Styx, where they pass eternity by jibing each other in a droll fashion. Bacon and Rayleigh tease Shakespeare about the authorship of his plays, P.T. Barnum scolds Noah for leaving all the dinosaurs off the Ark, Baron Munchausen tells a whopper about duck hunting and bets are taken on a bout between Samson and Goliath.

Might be the f
Austen to Zafón
I have the 1895 first edition by Harper & Bros. Beautiful cover. I'd like to get around to reading it!
This is a tongue-in-cheek story about a houseboat on the Styx which becomes a club for many famous ghosts including Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Homer, Noah, Adam, Napoleon, Baron Munchausen, etc. Each chapter is about a different topic they discuss from who really wrote Shakespeare's plays to the feasibility of having a poet's corner.

It's quirky and at times not very interesting. I think if you are familiar with the famous people, you would get more out of it. I read it mainly to have back
Really quite witty play on the afterlife. If eternal life was actually like this, I'd gladly become a believer.
Harmless and at times cute, (though wordy) satire as told through a series of vignettes taking place in Hades; the spirits of departed historical figures are the stars.

Not as in depth or intellectual as I thought it would be, and some of the humor is dated, (it was published in the late 19th century.) Still a few smiles to be had, if you are familiar with the historical figures mentioned in the stories.

A bit of a cheat having the characters of Hamlet being real, but otherwise okay.
Nanci Svensson
I like JKB, but found this novelette a bit too prep school newspaper-ish.
Entertaining. Humorous description of a literary afterlife.
Shawn Cordner
Found this book years ago and I've been a Bangs fan ever since. I'm glad to find other folks who have read and enjoyed his work.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A tad dated (for obvious reasons), but really a quite delightful read. I would suggest it to just about anyone.
Samantha Glasser
Read this book for free through Project Gutenberg:
This book was such a pleasant surprise, brilliantly witty and definitely before its time. Loved it!
Only just started this one. I absolutely love the concept...wish I'd thought of it.
The famous deceased do a bit of verbal sparring.
Omar Tamer
Occasionally funny , but that's it .
Kathy Langenwalter
Kathy Langenwalter marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2015
Josh Boggs
Josh Boggs marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2015
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John Kendrick Bangs was an American author and satirist, and the creator of modern Bangsian fantasy, the school of fantasy writing that sets the plot wholly or partially in the afterlife.
More about John Kendrick Bangs...
A Little Book of Christmas Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream The Idiot Ghosts I Have Met, and Some Others (Dodo Press) R. Holmes and Co.: Being the Remarkable Adventures of Raffles Holmes, Esq., Detective and Amateur Cracksman by Birth

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