Saturday, July 16, 2011
The Pirates! An Adventure With Whaling - Gideon Defoe
I have been unable to find out much about this Pirates series unfortunately. In the back of the novel there is a list of over 100 titles, and yet I'm not sure if Gideoen Defoe wrote them all. It is possible as they are very concise novels and he could churn out 100 novels in a short time span. I will have to do some real digging as I would like to read many more of these very funny short novels.
In short they are about a group of inept, bumbling, not very scary pirates, who have all sorts of 'adventures'. None of them have any names with the captain being called Pirate Captain, and two of his crew referred to as 'Scarf' and 'Red'. The others are completely anonymous. If you are old enough you may remember The Goon Show of which this is the closet comparison I can give. ( If you don't don't know who the Goons were they were Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, and Harry Secombe ). The show was played on the radio and was bloody hilarious! It was full of all sorts of absurd, quirky characters and situations. Some of the shows were even published and I remember a few copies at home as a boy.
The Pirates feels as if the Goon Show is its inspiration. Even a bit of Roald Dahl at his quirkiest pokes it head out. These novels are like the Goon show scripts as they are also full of silly humorous illustrations. This novel is about whales and whaling and every imaginable send up is explored. For instance Moby Dick is unmercifully sent up and Captain Ahab is continuously bumped into by our pirate crew. Pirate Captain even manages to cleve in half with his cutlass Starbuck!!
Interestingly Defoe intersperses his narrative in many interesting factual footnotes pertaining to maritime matters etc. It is an interesting juxtaposition of silliness mixed with very real, yet now somewhat obscure facts. For instance how a 'cocked hat' came about, and the expression, 'cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey' is explained. You'll have to read the novel as I'm not going to tell you!!
The situations are absurd, deeply funny, and yet with a cutting yet subtle cynicism to the humour. This is like Pirates of the Caribbean but much more farcical. Mix that franchise with The Goon Show and you get the idea of what to expect. It is great stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed this short little novel. I did actually laugh out loud a number of times, and if anything these novels are for the well read as there are numerous nods and winks to some quite obscure facts or events scattered throughout. They certainly aren't run of the mill and quite intelligently written.
I really recommend these novels. If you like or want something quirky and deeply funny then these are for you. They are genuinely funny with a very dry sense of humour that may not be for all but they suit my type of humour perfectly. Read, enjoy, laugh, and also be intrigued by Gideon Defoe's numerous and extremely interesting footnotes.
Believe me you won't forget these novels in a hurry! Irreverent and very, very politically in-correct!!!!
Amazon has this with 5 out of 5 stars and for me that says it all!