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Houseboat on the Styx
 
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John Kendrick Bangs
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Houseboat on the Styx

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  138 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The ferryman of the Styx, Charon, is in a foul temper. All of the sudden he seems to have competition upon the waters coursing between Life and Death -- for here is a beautiful, spacious houseboat on his river! Ahoy! calls a shade from the strange boat. The House Committee wants to see you, Charon! And who is this committee? answers the irritated ferryman. Why, Sir Walter ...more
Hardcover
Published September 1st 2002 by Amereon House (first published 1895)
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Pramod Nair
Jul 23, 2015 Pramod Nair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, humor, fantasy
After reading Mrs. Raffles a few day back, I was so fascinated by the works of John Kendrick Bangs that I took up some of his other books for reading, and the experience was really rewarding. Despite being one of the most prolific and popular humorists in the late 1800s John Kendrick Bangs is a largely forgotten author these days, yet I found the clever humor that is the signature of his works truly mesmerizing.

A House-Boat on the Styx’ is the third book I have read from the author and it was t
...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 26, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Alex Sarll
Like the bourgeois gentleman who never knew he'd been speaking prose his whole life, I had no idea how much Bangsian fantasy I'd read until I read Bangs (though crediting Bangs with the whole subgenre of posthumous encounters between the glorious dead does seem a little unfair to a certain Florentine poet). But, as is so often the way, the original is not the best. It comes as no surprise to learn that Bangs would go on to edit Puck, essentially an East Coast Punch, because the stories here gene ...more
Jessica
Jul 05, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michele
Apr 21, 2012 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jacob
Aug 03, 2014 Jacob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Michael Burns
Jul 27, 2014 Michael Burns rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jesse
Jan 26, 2010 Jesse rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librivox
I listened to the Librivox.org 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 Davis
Apr 18, 2010 Megan Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?
Permies.world
Apr 25, 2012 Permies.world rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Derek
Dec 26, 2015 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly decent read for the first while, then got fairly dull, but picked up again in the end. I enjoyed much of the word-play, and there were several decent groaners, but I found that the sharp wit wasn't as sharp with this work as others. The section on butter sculptures -- as an Iowan with a cultural attachment to said sculptures -- was one of my favorites.
Kat  Hooper
Mar 27, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Yi Chen Chong
Oct 30, 2014 Yi Chen Chong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
AJ Huff
This was a best seller in 1896. A rather whimsical book. No true plot just the ghosts of famous people and characters conversing in hell. Some good humor though. A nice light, quick, enjoyable read
Austen to Zafón
I have the 1895 first edition by Harper & Bros. Beautiful cover. I'd like to get around to reading it!
Julie
Apr 16, 2015 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fiction
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
...more
Daphne
Mar 17, 2014 Daphne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really quite witty play on the afterlife. If eternal life was actually like this, I'd gladly become a believer.
Perry Whitford
Waggishly droll 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 gently jibing each other.

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.

A tasteful slice of whimsy.
Ty
May 15, 2014 Ty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brian
Jan 02, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20-aug-04
Entertaining. Humorous description of a literary afterlife.
Shawn Cordner
Feb 06, 2013 Shawn Cordner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bettie☯
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Spotted on Stephanie's profile
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angie
Nov 04, 2013 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2618/2...
Michelle
Jul 26, 2012 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was such a pleasant surprise, brilliantly witty and definitely before its time. Loved it!
CheshRCat
Mar 27, 2012 CheshRCat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Only just started this one. I absolutely love the concept...wish I'd thought of it.
Charlotte
May 19, 2013 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uit-eigen-wil
The famous deceased do a bit of verbal sparring.
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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.
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