I was thoroughly enjoying this, but I had to abandon it completely before finishing the last two stories. I did not want to brush up on my Greek mytho...moreI was thoroughly enjoying this, but I had to abandon it completely before finishing the last two stories. I did not want to brush up on my Greek mythology just to have an adequate understanding of all the complexities of Barth's mutilations of the classic tales. I could tell that there was a lot of interesting stuff going on, but delving into it felt a little too much like work I wasn't willing to do at the moment.
However, I could not recommend the stories related to Ambrose enthusiastically enough. These were all extremely erudite, witty, readable, and postmodern in the best way.(less)
I used to love Imponderables books all through middle and high school! In fact, one volume served me well in an argument about whether or not a cornis...moreI used to love Imponderables books all through middle and high school! In fact, one volume served me well in an argument about whether or not a cornish game hen is just a baby chicken after all. (It is.) I had thought the series had faded away. In the age of Google, not many questions can't be answered. By slightly tweaking his formula, Feldman has managed to keep the series going. It's still Q&A, but Feldman seems to have expanded what he's willing to answer to types of questions that require a bit more speculation. Despite the new material, reading this was like a fun trip down memory lane for me, and I learned some new trivia.(less)
Finally revisited this and finished it this morning. I need a clean slate to begin the semester. I can't have all these half-finished book laying abou...moreFinally revisited this and finished it this morning. I need a clean slate to begin the semester. I can't have all these half-finished book laying about!
In early December, I read all but the title story, which is longer, maybe half the book. Getting through all the other stories had been too exhausting, and I just didn't have the wherewithal to finish at the time. This is the first book in a long time that I was truly disappointed by. I had high hopes because it had come up in conversation during a wonderful class I took last year on the contemporary short story.
This should have been the kind of thing I really like, but the stories, as a group, were too much gimmickry with not enough substance. They were little po-mo jokes and usually not enough to sustain a story. Pendarvis added a fake "Contributors' Notes" page and a page of "advance praise" for a fake novel at the back. These items, not the stories, gave me the most enjoyment because I thought, "Finally, some satire that is not overdone or too far-reaching."
The one story I thought was excellent and would recommend to others is "The Pipe." A radio DJ has been buried underground for a publicity stunt with a single pipe bringing air down to him, and a paramedic and security guard are tasked with sitting by the pipe each night in case something goes wrong. This story was well-drawn with characters that felt like, well, characters, instead of cardboard cutouts being propelled from one joke to the next.
You know what I just realized? A lot of the other stories read like the "Shouts and Murmurs" feature in The New Yorker. I hate that feature.
I don't hate Pendarvis or think he is untalented. Actually, I found him quite clever, and there were parts of all the stories that I found funny. I just wish he would dig deeper and find the humanity in his gimmicks.(less)