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The Franchiser

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  174 Ratings  ·  19 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
Paperback, 342 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1976)
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Jonathan
Oct 18, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it
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.

MJ Nicholls
Dec 10, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it liked it
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
Krok Zero
Sep 17, 2011 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-2011
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
Vit Babenco
Dec 14, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
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
Rand
Feb 12, 2013 Rand rated it really liked it
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
Scott
Oct 03, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
"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 it was amazing
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
...more
R.
Oct 08, 2014 R. rated it liked it
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
Steve
Nov 27, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing
, a 1975 novel by Stanley Elkin which satirizes the loss of human, personalized touch because of the ways so many things are the same all over the country via franchises. Heck, Wal-Mart hadn't even gotten started, though there is one paragraph in the book (can't remember where) in which Elkin almost envisions its inevitability. At any rate, the story of a man named Ben Flesh who inherits the prime rate for loans from his 18 god-siblings (4 sets of triplets, 3 sets of twins, all born within 7 yea ...more
Justin
Apr 14, 2009 Justin rated it really liked it
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
Douglas Gorney
Oct 01, 2015 Douglas Gorney rated it it was amazing
God's spoons, this is a wonderful book. The careening, pell-mell energy of On The Road meets the broken and overextended dreams of Death Of A Salesman somewhere on the Commodity Aesthetics shelf. A singular reading experience. Must re-read soon.
Rita O'connell
Jun 04, 2016 Rita O'connell rated it did not like it
I guess I don't need to read about another 1%er who helped make the united states the messed-up place it is today.
Andrew
Jun 08, 2007 Andrew rated it really liked it
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 Matthews
Aug 10, 2009 Al Matthews marked it as half-reading
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
Aug 29, 2011 Rendier rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Verbal diarhea in some parts, but a stunning example of what can be done with the English language in others.
Tyler
Jul 12, 2010 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, david-r-godine
Torrents of words, an exuberance of language, both exhilarating and exhausting.
Erik
Feb 22, 2015 Erik rated it really liked it
A dazzling wordsmith and satirist. I must read more of his work!
John
Mar 21, 2013 John rated it it was amazing
Elwin's prose is brilliant. Epic and surreal, really enjoyable.
Josh
Josh marked it as to-read
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Michael Magnes
Michael Magnes rated it really liked it
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Matt Denis marked it as to-read
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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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