“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~ Dr. Seuss – “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”
The Broke Ass Brigade by Don Romonov is an autobiographical journal or diary of sorts of a young man who is forced to scrimp and save just to make it in the day-t0-day world. He has to scrimp and save because he works at “The Company Store.” The specific name of the store is never mentioned but it’s easy enough to figure out.
Don relays his daily struggles with Asberger’s Syndrome (a form of autism), making ends meet, his friends and their activities and the horrors of working at “The Company Store.” This book is both terribly sad and hilarious. The stream-of-consciousness (and loaded with sarcasm) entries about the people he sees in the store and the real-life things that they do are as mystifying as they are unbelievable. I laughed out loud a number of times at things he mentioned. When I tried to read them aloud to my family, I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face!
Now, a word of warning, the language in the book is crass, graphic and may be offensive to some. The f- word sprinkles most of the pages. If you can get past that, this is a very entertaining read. I give it a B+.
Sick Puppy revolves around Florida governor, Dick Artemus; litter-bug lobbyist Palmer Stoat, who can get anything done for anyone if he is paid enough for it; Robert Clapley, the depraved developer, who is obsessed with both real and imagined Barbie Dolls; and a number of other crooked cronies. They want to destroy and develop sparsely inhabited Toad Island into a resort, complete with condos, golf courses, nature trails and airports. Pitted against them are Twilly Spree and former Florida governor, Clinton Tyree aka Skink, the eco-fanatic terrorists who attempt to thwart the project with a variety of questionable methods, including a flatulent black Labrador Retriever named Boodle-McGuinn. Thrown into the mix are Palmer’s wife, Desie, who is fascinated by and attracted to Twilly; Mr. Gash, the porcupine-headed, 911 tape obsessed hit man; Lieutenant Jim Tile of the Florida Highway Patrol and more twisted, bizarre characters.
This book has it all: an island of toads buried alive, dead animal pieces and parts, bone-crushing construction equipment (literally), big game trafficking, sex, drugs and just a little rock-n-roll. Hiaasen continues his satiric rally against all things modern in Florida. It is a comedic tale that shouldn’t be missed.
I picked this book up at the library for a beach read on our vacation. A recommendation I read said that it was funny. The recommendation was wrong. This book was hilarious. It’s really hard to describe what the appeal is for this novel. It’s vulgar, crass and farcical (is that a word?).
The hero of this convoluted nonsense is Ignatius Reilly, a thirty-something slob who lives in a beat up hovel in 1960’s New Orleans – with his mother. He has a college degree but has never really had a job. He is enormously fat and ugly and dresses funny, the costume of choice being extremely baggy pants, plaid flannel shirt and green hunting cap with ear flaps. He doesn’t drive but writes like a fiend in his Big Chief writing tablets about injustice and the current state of the world and how “Fortuna” has cursed him.
Mama Reilly despairs over her son. He lays in bed in his filthy room all day pondering his ill-functioning pyloric valve. She worries that Ignatius is jobless and over his correspondence with Myrna, a political activist, and that her son may be a “communiss.”
Ignatius lands an office job at the Levy Pants factory and actually likes it. He proudly throws files away instead of filing them, writes scathing letters to company distributors, is nice to the ancient and senile accountant Miss Trixie (who thinks Ignatius is a woman named Gloria) and executes all kinds of changes to a place that hasn’t seen it in many moons.
After being fired (not surprisingly) for inciting a riot among the factory workers, Ignatius becomes a hot dog vendor at Paradise Vendors, Inc. with a portable wienie cart. He eats more than he sells and tells fantastic stories to his boss, Mr. Clyde, about why he isn’t bringing in a profit.
Other ridiculous but equally engaging characters in A Confederacy of Dunces include:
Gonzalez – the office manager (as it were) at Levy Pants and the unfortunate person responsible for hiring Ignatius Reilly
Jones – the African-American vagrant turned “broom pusher extraordinaire” for Night of Joy bar on Bourbon Street
George – the high school dropout who delivers mysterious packages for Lana Lee, owner of the Night of Joy
Darlene – Night of Joy’s headline act, such as it is
Patrolman Mancuso – the policeman who can’t catch a break or a criminal and wears everything but a uniform when on duty
Santa – Mancuso’s mother, as well as Mama Reilly’s bowling partner and confidante
Miss Annie – the nosy, screaming neighbor of the Reillys
Mr. and Mrs. Levy – dysfunctional owners of Levy Pants who hate each other
Claude Robichaux – ancient widower courting Mrs. Reilly who thinks everyone is a communist
Note that this book is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended. However, the humor is definitely worth it. Most of the dialogue is in the dialect of those speaking and is a little hard to understand at first. Then it grows on you.
Don’t miss this literary treat. It really is laugh-out-loud funny. No wonder it won the Pulitzer.
I’m almost finished with A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I had read a review of it and thought it looked pretty amusing, as well as being about the New Orleans French Quarter that I love. I’ll post more when I’m finished but this book is so nutty and inane. I tried to describe one scene to my husband and laughed so hard trying to tell him that I couldn’t catch my breath and cried.