Just a Couple of Days (3/5)

From it’s introductory question: “Why aren’t apples called reds?” and the brief, meandering meditation upon the femininity of questions, the masculinity of answers and the essence of the question itself, I suspected I was going to like this book.

Immediately you notice that Vigorito’s words flow with grace – “I hasten to add that he was not what you might term psychotic. Rather, he lost himself somewhere on the harmless side of lunacy, slightly south of innocuous but definitely north of demented.”

When Dr. Blip Korterly paints out all of the graffiti in a busy underpass and replaces it with “UH-OH”, the city becomes enamored, wondering what it means. This peaked someone’s interest and they graffiti “WHEN?”. In response, the Doctor jocularly responds with “JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS”.

Dr Flake Fountain, a molecular geneticist and friend to Blip, is narrating the story and is perhaps the only character in the book who is not an exaggerated stereotype. His cynicism is welcome to contradict Blip and his wife Sofia’s hippie outlook.

An interesting situation that occurs early in the book sums up Blip and Sophia well. They make homemade bread, and Blip marvels at the way Sophia strategically cuts the bread so that it will fit in the toaster. Sophia tells Blip that she was copying what HE did that same morning, but then Blip responds that he actually cut the bread after it had been toasted and had used their historic method of flipping the bread halfway through the toaster’s cycle to get the whole thing toasted. The upshot of which is that Sophia was copying something she thought Blip had done but that he hadn’t. Sophia then shrewdly asks: “Where did that idea come from?”

This sort of intellectual curiosity abounds in the book and soon Vigorito begins to explore what the lack of a symbolic facility would engender for humanity. Unfortunately, he is not very successful at this because he changes the rules midstream and instead, inexplicably, explores a telepathic dystopian love and dance fest. I’m looking forward to reading a fiction exploring language and concepts (chess, or Cook-Note Fiberglass) instead of language and objects (apples).

There were some other problems with the book. This is the author’s first and I think it shows in the pacing of the story. It was printed by Bast Books out of Columbus, Ohio, so I assume that he did not have a lot of help tightening this up. The Book o’ Billets-doux chapters added nothing to the story, with the exception of the last, and were completely skimmable. There is a section at the end of the book that brought Ayn Rand vividly to mind, but only because Vigorito makes the grave stylistic error of writing an entire chapter that preaches a philosophy – the content itself is exactly opposite that of Rand. Finally, as I said earlier, many of the supporting characters were greatly exaggerated, stereotypical characters. I think this might have been on purpose, though I can’t imagine why.

Of special interest to Discordians is Sofia and Blip’s daughter, Dandelion, who acts like Eris incarnate. Her first word was “Gardyloo!”, which is what people hollered out their windows before they threw out their chamber pots in medieval times. Until she was three, dandelion would come into the room when adults were talking, listen intently to what a person was saying and when they were finished reply with a grand “Gardyloo!”

Also, Sofia bends all of her knives to 23.5 degrees, claiming she heard someone in a coffee house say that they were more ergonomically correct that way – it was probably Omar and Mal-2 talking, after returning from the bowling alley, but Vigorito doesn’t say.

Loki is also referred to as a trickster god of chaos: “He is a mockery of order, a braying heretic.” And “At his discretion, Loki may tickle us tenderly or fling the wickedest of insults, but he promises to leave a greater approximation of truth in his wake.” These sentences could just as easily apply to Our Lady.

I’m torn over this book. The author’s voice and inherent intellectual curiosity is great, but I think he still has lots to learn about his craft. A quick glance at the reviews on Amazon confirm what I suspected: most people who read this and bothered to post there really loved it, and can’t understand how anyone could not.

I think it is so hard to find a story that steps outside the normal boundaries of commercial fiction but is still accessible, that when something like this comes along it is embraced aggressively by many people despite any flaws it may have.

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