Review: Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals

In the first chapter of Kirk Jones’ debut we are introduced to Gary, a man with luck so bad that his entire body gets turned into vitreous humor (that gooey stuff inside your eyeballs).  And that’s just in the first chapter.  It gets weirder.  Gary winds up joining a carnival where he becomes a tamer of living furniture.  And the whole thing is about America.  See?  I told you it got weirder.

The boss of the carnival is the aptly named Uncle Sam, basically the personification of the U.S.A.  His carnival travels across the country doing shows so great they make the audiences puke with sheer joy.  The show seems charming enough, but there are subtle problems under the surface.  It’s all built on the backs of the living furniture, which perform by humping one another until one of them breaks into pieces and dies.  Media monsters sneak about doing Uncle Sam’s bidding.  There’s also a weird and violent storm that constantly follows the carnival on its travels.

Gary starts to realize all is not as it seems and starts to unravel Uncle Sam’s weird scheme.  He starts a romance with Sam’s niece, Liberty.  He discovers how Sam creates living furniture.  And he goes into the storm to see the horrible nature of American history and the nightmare Uncle Sam is running from.  Are we individualists or are we (quite literally) objects in the system?  It turns out the American Dream is based on exploitation, opportunism, and hubris to a warped and bizarre degree, but if you’re smart you already knew that.  It sounds terribly mysterious, but Jones’ writing is solid and brings across the ideas well.  This is a short book with a lot of big thoughts and a strong voice.  If you enjoy truly scary ideas told in a whimsical fashion (like the films of Terry Gilliam), you’ll love this book.

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Uncle-Sams-Carnival-Copulating-Inanimals/dp/193638325X

 

HAHA!  Another one down!  Up next is FELIX AND THE SACRED THOR by James Steele, a man who hates Christmas shoppers.  My kinda guy.

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