Thursday, October 18, 2007

O, Curly-Tailed Muse, Tell Me a Tale of ... you know, stuff

Here's a great premise: After Circe transforms Odysseus's crew into pigs and back, one man is left in pig form. He's a pig with a destiny, and it's not herding sheep.

Paul Shipton's The Pig Scrolls is quite simply hilarious. Shipton uses sloppy American slang and British panache to toy with the conventions of epic poetry and Greek mythology. He instills the porcine Gryllus with a general aversion to adventure, monsters, the Olympians (who mostly act like petulant teens), and physical activity. He's your average lazy pig/guy: Often a coward (with thinly veiled but entertaining excuses for avoiding danger), he greets his doom in its manifold forms with snide comments and ridicule. His interview with the Sphinx is especially memorable, as is his attempt at stand-up comedy to a crowd of ancient Greek rednecks in a greasy kebab joint.

After soaking up several Wodehouse books chock full of masterful metaphors and banter, I continued to enjoy Gryllus's comically weak similies and scathing invectives. Here are just a few examples:

"'That kid brother o' mine reckons you speaks the Greek good as us, pig.' On present evidence, I spoke 'the Greek' considerably better, but before I had a chance to point this out, the man went on: 'Betwixt you and me, he ain't the brightest button on the tunic. But...if you does speak and you wants to save that pigskin o' yours, speak now, eh.' I couldn't help noticing that this voice lacked the warmth that is the hallmark of most successful first meetings."

"The mountain was majestic and awe-inspiring and all that stuff, but most of all it was big."

"By now Sibyl's patience had worn as thin as a flamingo's leggings."

"The giant hooded figure took a step forward. Its echoing footfall sounded like the executioner's ax connecting with bone. Or...well, I don't know what it sounded like, do I? Like NOT GOOD NEWS."

"She spoke softly, but her voice seemed loud in the silence that lay over the entire place, not like a nice warm blanket of silence but more like a funeral shroud or something equally creepy."

I found Scrolls in the children's section, but much of the linguistic and literary humor would probably go over a child's head (unless she has been immersed in the classics, and even then...let's just say this seems more geared toward teens and adults). The sequel is The Pig Who Saved the World, which I'm looking forward to reading as soon as I get my hands on a copy.

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