Funniest. Book. Ever.
No, seriously, this book is hysterical. I first read it about twelve years or so ago when a local mom-and-pop second-hand bookshop was going out of business, and I just sort of scooped up everything I could carry. The book was so funny that I actually decided to write an unlicenced spec screenplay of it on the spot, it was just that good. And, of course, I was just that stupid. Then, when my script hit about 20 pages, I actually got to the end of the book, was very let down by the ending, and gave up on the whole project, never to think of it again.
I rediscovered the book a week back, tore through it at hyperdrive speeds, laughed myself into spasms of aching muscles several times, and you know what? Even the ending wasn’t that bad. I dunno what I was smoking back in the Clinton years. But whatever it was, I can assure you: I didn’t inhale.
Bottom line: Funniest book ever. Go and find yourself a copy on Amazon right now.
What? You want more to go on? Fine…
PLAY BY PLAY
It is the not-too-distant future: 1995 AD, or thereabouts. The United States of America collapsed somewhere in the first half of the 1970s. This was really more annoying than disastrous. We didn’t end up with world-wide communism or a Road Warrior-styled post apocalypse. Instead we end up with a bunch of little city-states and weird fringe groups, all impotently bickering with each other.
As with all good noirs, this noir-parody starts out in San Francisco. There have been a series of murders by a radical lesbian separatist group called “Mankill, Inc,” but more commonly known as “Lady Day.” Jim Haley is a detective who takes the case, trying to figure out who the killers are, and what they want. From there on out, the book is a hybrid of your standard Chandleresque sleuthing about, and a 1960s-styled road movie.
The world of the future (As seen from the past) is full of little enclaves of whack jobs, all running their little ideal worlds, all more-or-less with their heads stuck in the sand, ignoring the larger problems of the world and intent on remaining firmly in control of their useless little kingdoms. As parodies of the fragmented politics and special interest groups of the 1960s go, this one is spot on, and really really funny.
Haley eventually travels to a sort of perpetual Renaissance festival, where he gets a lead on a former Lady Day member. He tracks her down - she’s kind of a hippie chick - and in exchange for protection, she gives him a lead on a gay actor who’s affiliated with the terrorists. Haley and the hippie chick hook up - of course - and then she gets kidnapped by her former gang members. He chases after her, has various increasingly silly adventures, and then we reach the climax.
I’m being deliberately vague because this is a comedy, and a mystery, neither of which handle spoilers well. You really need to read this one, not read about it. What I *will* do, however, is give you a bunch of lines from the book that jumped out at me, so you can sort of gauge how funny it is
RANDOM FUNNY BITS I LIKED
“McGuiness scowled at the [Computer]’s slightly askew speaker grid. “Give us what you have on the assassinations of Dante B. Fortalanza.”
“That’s a good subject,” said the box. “Now, I’ve been worrying a lot about these killings and about the senseless violence rampant in our culture in general. The problem is, everyone these days is too cerebral. I think we need a turning back to the simple virtues of the past, a turning back to the glorious days when each citizen of San Francisco was responsible for law enforcement. In those golden vigilante days of yore, it was relatively - “
Chief McGuiness kicked the box in the side. “Give us the damn data, and don’t editorialize. Not verbally, either. Print me the info.”
“We live like pioneers,” said the spokesman of the Natty Bumpo Brigade men. “We tell