Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Pirates! An Adventure With Whaling - Gideon Defoe

'Silly, charming, unique, and hilarious all at once'.

From the cover of, The Pirates! In an adventure with communists.

  How the hell can I review a novel that is only 6 1/2 inches high and 147 pages long?! And not only that but I also read the following novel immediately after it last night. I suppose that shows the ease of which these Pirates novels can be read because I did read them consecutively finishing the second one at 2.30 this morning.

 I'm not in the mood for anything too heavy at the moment and a novel at 147 pages suits me perfectly. I brought them home from the library because I liked the covers and the fact they are comedies. For me comedy as literature has somewhat passed me by as I find it relates better to cinema than to the written word. Horror is very much the same for me even though I do dabble from time to time. Somehow though as i flicked through this the other day I had a feeling I wouldn't be disappointed...and I wasn't!

 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!

The Pirates! In an adventure with communists.

 As stated I read this novel immediately after Whaling. It is slightly longer at 160 pages but it is just as light and breezy, not to mention as hilarious! Obviously Pirate Captain and his crew have an adventure with Communists, and which better commies to have one with than Karl Marx and Max Engels!!

 The action starts in England and then moves to Paris as the pirates attempt to help Marx and Engels create a better image for communism. Needless to say all sorts of commie jokes abound! The text is again filled with quirky and silly illustrations pertaining to the plot, and Gideon again makes prodigious use of his interesting footnotes. The Pirates go through the Louvre, Madame Tussuad's Wax Works, and go to a Can Can dance where they are disappointed the dances are wearing knickers!! The novel moves on to Pirate Captain meeting composer Wagner and then finishing with a meeting, and fight, with Nietzsche, who is spouting out about the wonders of fascism!

 Another quirky silly and funny novel!! Well worth a read if you won't something unique and with a very dry humour to it. Highly recommended, and again you will love the tongue in cheek irreverence and political in-correctness!

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