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The Franchiser
Stanley Elkin
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The Franchiser

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  218 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews

The comic story of a man’s obsessive quest to build a fast food empire across America

For the better part of the 1970s, entrepreneur Ben Flesh could expand his business kingdom with the snap of his fingers. His fast food restaurants and electronics stores were all a part of his rapidly growing domain, remaking America one enterprise at a time. But when a series of persona
ebook, 342 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Open Road Media (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 09, 2011 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
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Graham P
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ben Flesh. Born from the sweat of immigrants, cut from the cloth of mass-produced materials, force fed The American Dream from an all-you-can-eat buffet. The Franchiser is about America told through a capitalistic insanity, a modern-day road novel about a sick man traversing a sick country during its bicentennial celebration, a man not only on a mission to acquire businesses--the golden arches, the dairy queens, the car washes--but have his voice heard in each of the 50 states, only to find hims ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: elkinism
It’s been too long now since I read this to give it a proper review. It’s Elkin, so read it. May I recommend my erotic memoir, My Bed, My Prison: Confessions of an Polymorphously Perverse Bed-Ridden Autoerotic, as well?
Brent Legault
I respect Elkin's writing, but that doesn't mean I like it. He presses hard. He thinks big. He wants his words to swallow the world. But often, he just sputters and flaps. I don't know, it could just be an older sense of humor that doesn't travel well, that's overripe, that bruises easy. Remember when Milton Berle was funny? Neither do I.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A world of neon and numbing nuked food may make happy the many, but we're all the fool.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
, 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
Jun 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Douglas Gorney
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 22, 2011 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.
Jul 09, 2010 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 F.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dazzling wordsmith and satirist.
Al Matthews
Aug 06, 2008 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.

Trent Eades
rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2018
rated it it was amazing
May 29, 2013
فاطمة محمود
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Dec 28, 2014
rated it liked it
Jul 05, 2007
Michael Woods
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Jun 25, 2017
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Johnnie Dun
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Jul 25, 2010
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Aug 14, 2012
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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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