Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Winkie by Clifford Chase

In Cliff Chase's scathingly funny and surprisingly humane debut novel, the zeitgeist assumes the form of a one-foot-tall ursine Everyman — a mild-mannered teddy bear named Winkie who finds himself on the wrong side of America's war on terror. After suffering decades of neglect from the children who've forgotten him, Winkie summons the courage to take charge of his fate, so he hops off the shelf, jumps out the window, and takes to the forest. But just as he is discovering the joys and wonders of mobility, Winkie gets trapped in the jaws of a society gone rabid with fear and paranoia.

Having come upon the cabin of the mad professor who stole his beloved, Winkie is suddenly surrounded by the FBI, who instantly conclude that he is the evil mastermind behind dozens of terrorist attacks that have been traced to the forest. Terrified and confused, Winkie is brought to trial, where the prosecution attempts to seal the little bear's fate by interviewing witnesses from the trials of Galileo, Socrates, John Scopes, and Oscar Wilde. Emotionally gripping and intellectually compelling, Winkie exposes the absurdities of our age and explores what it means to be human in an increasingly barbaric world.

My take: 2 stars
The summary above is overly generous. "Scathingly funny": Not even close. More like "Nails-on-a-blackboard irritating". This part is true: "trapped in the jaws of a society gone rabid with fear and paranoia." The only piece I wrote down from this book was when the prosecutor was interviewing an army general on the witness stand:

"...they are nothing less than an army of supercombatants, trained to maim and kill." The general revealed his next chart. "And created, we believe, by a scientific process we don't yet understand, but which might well involve the use of stolen children, combined with DNA from a local animal, such as a snake or rodent or, just as likely, a drug-resistant micro-organism, such as smallpox or anthrax."

So, this is a fine statement on the way things are quickly becoming, with all reason going out the window when the media gets hold of the next big threat. Take swine flu, for example. Swine flu is no worse than the regular flu, which kills immuno-compromised people each year. However, there was a HUGE media campaign to the point of hysteria about it. Totally uncalled for.

While I appreciate the author's over-the-top examples of societal maladies, they were a bit tooooo over-the-top for me. I wanted to slap silly the defense attorney, then shake him by the shoulders until his head rolled off onto the floor. I wanted to put the prosecutor through a tree shredder. I wanted to take the judge and ram that gavel right up his robed rectum.

In short, I hated everyone. Winkie was okay, but let's face it: he's a teddy bear. Who can hate a teddy bear?
I am glad this one is over and I plan to never read another by this author.

No comments:

Post a Comment