Thursday, May 03, 2007

E-BOOK: A House-boat on the River Styx by John Kendrick Bangs

I had never, ever heard of this guy until his book popped up on the recommendations list at one of my favourite e-book sites, but apparently A House-boat on the River Styx is actually the first in what was apparently a popular series. At any rate, it was one of the funniest e-books I have come across in some time. Basically, the premise is this: Charon, the ferryman on the River Styx (aka the afterlife) is startled out of his soul-ferrying routine one day when a houseboat appears on the river. Competition! Or, not, as it turns out: the boat is a sort of floating gentlemen's club for dead people, and its executive (led by an affable Sir Walter Raleigh, Cassius, Confucius and others) wants to hire Charon to be their...janitor. Seriously. What follows are a series of farcical escapades with premises such as "Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson and Nero play pool" and "George Washington has a birthday dinner with Baron Munchausen, Doctor Johnson, Confucius, Napoleon Bonaparte, Diogenes, and Ptolemy."

The book is decidedly on the hammy side. Charon's initial reaction to the boat is "well, blow me for a landlubber if I like that!" for example. And I might have liked it better if the newcomers really did plan to compete with Charon and generate a little intrigue. But, lack of plot aside, I give this guy credit for his absurd but creative idea. Charon as the janitor on a boat full of famous dead people? Heh. I mean, really!



At 7:45 AM, Blogger rjnagle said...

Bangs is a great writer, a precursor to a lot of metafictional writers. I enjoyed Rebellious Heroine. BTW, I probably would never have read Bangs were it not for ebooks and the public domain!

At 5:45 PM, Blogger list1 said...

hello, Ms. or Mr. ficbot,

I'm one of the Korean reader of Bangs book. And I saw the review on your blog. Actually, there are lots of colloquials in this book, so I couldn't understand what the "blow me for a land lubber" phrase, if you don't mind would you please explain what that phrase means..I couldn't find the meaning on dictionary...with previous thanks...^^


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