Monday, August 23, 2010

Go, Mutants -- Larry Doyle

It's been more than a year since I mentioned Larry Doyle's I Love You, Beth Cooper. Doesn't seem nearly that long. Anyway, Doyle has a new book out, and it's really an odd one. If Joe Lansdale and Howard Waldrop collaborated on a coming-of-age novel while they were heavily medicated, the result might be something like Go, Mutants.

In the alternate universe of this novel, Bobby Thompson's "shot heard 'round the world" never happened. Oh, he hit the ball, all right, but it was turned to a cinder by a blast from a flying saucer and turned into a ground-rule double. Dodgers win! And aliens land. All those movies us old guys saw in the '50s, the black and white ones about alien invasions? In this universe, they were documentaries.

Now it's 20 years later. The book's mutant protagonist, J!m (pronounced Ji' 'm, though hardly anybody bothers with that; they just call him "Jim") is in high school, and if you think adolescence is hard for humans, well, it's even tougher for mutants. J!m's best friends are Jelly, who's more or less like The Blob, and Johnny, who's a radioactive half-apeman descended from a giant ape that we all know and love.

Part screenplay, part double-feature drive-in movie, the book careens along with references and winks at just about every old monster movie you can think of, and some you probably can't. I can't really describe it. It works (for me) more often than not, and parts of it are very funny. For example this description of the high school: "The three-story brick edifice had a stone facade cast with shields, eagles, arrows and other symbols of higher learning, and a central bell tower that had remained locked ever since Dr. Terwilliker, the old music teacher, had castrated dozens of pupils up there, using the pealing bell to mask their girlish screams, in hopes of creating an unstoppable five-hundred-boy soprano army, his plans becoming vague from there." If that doesn't amuse you, this isn't your kind of book.

I recommend checking out the book's website, one of the best I've seen. Be sure to click on the jukebox so you can listen to some of the great songs. For that matter, any website that uses "Rebel Rouser" on the homepage is great in my book.


Anonymous said...

OK, you got me with "his plans becoming vague from there."


Donna said...

I read this last month and enjoyed it. Not least for all those somewhat skewed old monster/alien/teen rebel movies. Liked that changed plot of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. And good appearances from Jan "in the pan" Rand and baby blob (Jelly).

Gerard said...

I was just searching through my library's digital catalog and saw the cover for this and I knew the cover looked familiar.

Interestingly enough, the vendor (Overdrive) has the novel cataloged under "literature" rather than science fiction or juvenile.