Sunday, March 15, 2009

Review of Awesome by Jack Pendarvis

Awesome Awesome by Jack Pendarvis

rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of my favorite books in my twenties was Mark Leyner's Et tu, Babe. It wasn't the greatest book ever written, but it joyously reveled in the unexplored fields of the superego. They were the fantasies of demigods as they walked among mortals, hilarious and perverse. All flaws and responsibility were thrown back in the way a Viking's glorious locks are in the breeze. It was perfect reading for being twenty and similarly roaming the earth overconfident from having just inherited it.

I've always wondered why no one has really continued down that glorious path since, or if they have, why I didn't know about it. David Sedaris had a bit of it in him (see that opening story of Naked), but he was after a different Golden Fleece. With Awesome, Jack Pendarvis has indelibly left gigantic footprints on this same trail. I wasn't crazy about Your Body is Changing, only because his stories at the front of the book started at Mt. Olympus in terms of creativity and strode toward the plane of man. Awesome, on the other hand, is all awesome all the time.

It begins with a laugh at and from the narcissism of the massive indestructible giant Awesome and follows him through a series of Herculean tasks, themselves a running joke pointing to the greater running joke that is the self. It is uproariously silly, mythic in structure, and even a little sweet. With this book I've given up waiting for Mark Leyner to reenter the field of playful, smart, literature, because Jack Pendarvis takes that peculiar literary ball and runs with it.

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