Friday, 28 September 2012

Reviews Of Books I Have Read

Contusions & Confusions by Lipsy Narvin
Just looking at this image of the author, one immediately knows they're in for some great humour. With a twinkle in his myopic eyes and a chin that quivers like jellied calf's liver after each hefty guffaw, Lipsy Narvin is a delight and national treasure, both at parties and on the literary scene. "Hurrah, Lipsy's here," is the most common refrain when he walks into a room and "Aww, Lipsy's gone," can be heard from the saddened gathering when he leaves.
My tastes in reading have always leaned towards the more serious and heavyweight leaders of the literary arts and their highly-efficient silverfish killing works (hit a silverfish with any edition of Don Quixote, War and Peace, Harold Robbins' The Carpetbaggers or any of Proust's volumes of A Remembrance of Things Past and you'll be hard-pressed to find any evidence of the silverfish's previous existence on planet earth), but I have been known to occasionally whack my funny bone on humorous writing and the odd end table and sometimes it's not my funny bone but my boner that I whack on a piece of furniture, deliberately I might add, to deflate the unexpected erections that befall me at the most unlikely of moments like during the Lord's Prayer, the national anthem, images of Muuamar Gaddafi's offspring playing polo in Leipzig or reruns of Murder She Wrote that I sometimes watch with my landlady while she darns her support hose. Either way, I find humour energizes the mind for more serious pursuits, especially after I've squeezed the last laugh from my belly and all the other places that last laugh may hide, for example in the sphincter muscles, prostate gland, urinary tract and occasionally the upper parts of the nostrils near the sinus cavities. In fact, it's this practice of extreme laughing that has led to my use of adult diapers as sometimes laughter is not the only thing that streams from my body copiously when the moment catches me, but it's of my opinion that any release, whether auditory or bodily, is good for the body, mind and soul, though perhaps not so good for the carpeting or upholstery.
I call these protective undergarments "soul catchers." As laughter floods from the body, so do some of the body's earthly essences, a completely natural expression of the body's reaction to humour and an indicator of the healthy soul that lies deep within. I've always felt to lose these precious juices and liquids is such a waste, not to mention costly because of the constant cleaning to get the stains out of your pants, but I feel the moniker, "adult diapers" does no justice to the essential and life-affirming function these undergarments perform as the soul is invigorated and the bowels and urinary tracts cleansed when laughter, such as that induced by the works of Lipsy Narvin, reaches its crescendo.
But enough about my undergarments, my undercarriage and my unconscious. Let's get on with the review and to do that we must first examine the source of Lipsy Narvin's humour. They say every great comedic mind is born out of tragedy, depression, self-loathing, rage, low self-esteem, bad diet and ill-fitting shoes. The effects of corns and bunions on a person's psyche cannot be underestimated, especially if they're already predisposed to the other conditions mentioned. Add a bunion to a person already primed to fly off the handle at a moment's notice, especially one who has been fed only corn chips, corn dogs, burgers, bratwurst and canned chili and you have a recipe for disaster and a probable roundhouse to the old schnozzola. But with Lipsy Narvin, as befitting a great humorist, the psychological makeup runs deeper than that and the bunion and bratwurst and burger on a bun is just the tip of the iceberg for below the frigid waters of a tumultuous sea of the human psyche lies the foundation of Lipsy's inspiration. For Lipsy was born a girl, lovingly named Lipodestra upon birth, coddled and cuddled and cared for as any beloved daughter would, but alas, Lipodestra was not to be. For Lipsy felt the calling, the yearning the urging, even at the earliest age, before full consciousness and motor controls and potty training had set in that she was a man at heart, regardless of whether there was anything to circumcise. As Lipsy has said in his great, rib-tickling essay, Penis Prima Donnas, "We judge so much of a man by his penis when really it's all about the neck muscles, nostril hair, preference for stubby heels and sweat glands that may demand more than just a light feminine product to mask the musk of a male trapped in a woman's body as in my case, so that, if one has a vagina rather than a dingdong for instance, and the above criteria are a match, well, so long sister and hello brother and you can stuff your pink ribbons and bow ties up your keister because this girl's going places in a man's world, with or without an Adams Apple or scrotum-cradling underpants."
Does the woman on the far right remind you of someone? Yep, that's right. It's Lispy Narvin before the sex-change when he was the beguiling Lipodestra and a singer in a religious trio. Their number one hit, Jesus, Use Me Like A Hooker In Bethlehem Behind the Dumpster Of An Olive Garden, took the Bible Belt by storm, causing many a man to loosen his belt when the wife wasn't looking and give a little squeeze to Jesus' staff before whacking it on a bible to expel such demon thoughts. As an added twist, once the sex-change was complete, Lipsy married the woman on the far left, Gladdis Lorbog, known not only for her formidable beehive hair-do but also her lilting soprano voice that was said to be able to drive the rabies right out of a mad dog frothing and convulsing on the pavement.
It was not long after Lipsy's sex-change that he hit his stride in the world of humour writing, regaling community center audiences both small and large (larger audiences usually turned out on $1.50 hot dog with a juice box or pop nights), with his painful, poignant, piquant but always funny observations. Borrowing from both his personal life and from the lives of his friends, enemies, strangers, his dentist, tax accountant, butcher, Vietnamese masseuse at the Grateful Endings Massage Parlor he liked to frequent and the one-armed man named Fred that he played tennis with every second Friday, soon publishers were breaking down the door of his basement apartment trying to get first dibs at publishing his essays. It's been many books later but Contusions & Confusions still remains his seminal work, maybe due to the fact of youth being on his side at the time and thus his semen production running at full tilt, not to mention the willingness to take risks that's an inherent trait of the young. Then again, maybe it was due to his new penis and the freedom of knowing that with it he could pee anywhere he liked, either incognito or just waving it around in a public display of power and urine spray. But as he writes in the title piece, all this new strutting around and cock-of-the-walk behavior was not without its setbacks. The opening paragraph says it all and each time I read it I weep, I laugh, I even emit a little gas, such is the power of a Lispy Narvin sentence and the degrees of depth his humour hits, like the submarine in Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea that's always getting in trouble and sinking to the ocean's bed.
After my first contusion I was very confused. I awoke in the gutter lane of a bowling alley wearing a beehive hair-do and clutching a rolling pin. Not a bowling pin mind you, but a rolling pin. Like I'd just come from Satan's kitchen and dead kitten sausage was on the menu. This contusion had me completely confusioned. And if that's not a word so be it, I'll eat my delusions and the inserts in your bowling shoes too. After they've been deodorized of course. Not that I mind stinky feet. My feet smell like old meat. Vultures circle me constantly thinking I'm some decomposing carcass. I'm just a hop, skip and jump away from being floated down the Ganges. Anyway, my forehead was black and blue from where I had been struck with a nine-iron and my blood had clotted, covering my face in what I perceived, upon first lick, as a very tasty crust. But pizza this was not. It was all coming back to me or maybe I was coming back to it. Or maybe me and it were meeting somewhere in between, some kind of neutral common ground where the barbed wire didn't catch our pants so easily. Either way, I knew I'd double-bogeyed on the 16th and my partner had gone all methamphetamine Arnold Palmer on me. Not that I blamed him in the least. A double-bogey, especially on a par 3, can drive any golf partner crazy and it's a good thing it wasn't a triple-bogey or you could've fed my innards to the gophers after I'd been gutted like a pig on the green and putted my testicles into the cup from a good eight feet. But I'm a bowler and not a golfer so I had plenty of excuses but excuses are only for the weak or those who can't lift a bowling ball with their scrotum.  
Here's a couple of Lipsy's pals sharing a laugh at the scene of Lipsy's bowling alley contusion experience. From left to right, Al Horstein, Reggie Botswold, Frank Yuntsmeyer and Seymour Kakinfrance. You can just make out Lipsy's hand and foot behind the pin setting machine, re-enacting his delirious state as the bowling balls rolled down the lane relentlessly.
In his next essay in the collection, Daughter of a Ditch Digger, Son of a Bitch, Lipsy vents a little spleen, spits a little venom and spritzes a little aftershave on his confused upbringing and the inability of his parents, Fritz and Gertie Narvin, to understand and deal with the masculine yearnings surging beneath his prettily flowered dress and pig-tailed head. Fritz, a ditch digger with the county and winner of the Pickle Lake Ditch Digger's Award for Exemplary Service to the Community, does have a moment of illumination when he realizes that the son he never had actually resides in his daughter's body and might turn out to be a ditch digger like himself and carry on the family tradition (the Narvins come from a long line of ditch diggers dating all the way back in their ancestral family tree to Bulgarian gypsies that settled in 16th century England and were soon digging ditches for royalty and stealing their poultry). Gertie, meanwhile, secretly blames the whole thing on her affair with Morty DeMarco, foreman at the local meat-packing plant and who is actually the father of Lipsy/Lipodestra Narvin. If you compare the picture of Lipsy today and the image of DeMarco in the photo below, the resemblance is uncanny as is both of their insatiable cravings for goat meat and the fact both men have prized hacksaw collections.
Here is Morty DeMarco, the real father of Lispy Narvin. Foreman at the Calypso Meat-Packing and Rendering Plant, one of the major employers of most Pickle Lake residents, DeMarco is also a meat home hobbyist and is seen here with his patented goat and lamb meat-shaving lathe and his treasured hand-forged knives made by the blind Albanian monks of the St. Galoobian Monastery. Don't let his intimidating appearance fool you. DeMarco is very popular in the Pickle Lake community and he and his meat-shaving lathe are frequent guests at children's birthday parties where the kids are allowed to shave as much meat as they can eat from the ample carcasses DeMarco so generously donates to the family's birthday festivities. He's also been known to set up his captivating slideshow illustrating how he smuggled his beloved knives out of Albania by dressing as a Russian prostitute in fetching hot pants and supplying free hand-jobs to border guards. Though these experiences still give him nightmares and he's been know to wake up screaming out the names of obscure Albanian villages, Morty never regrets the choices he made and treasures each of his knives as if they were his own children.
As Lipsy recounts in the essay: Once I found out that Morty DeMarco, that gourd of a human being was actually my father, I was just happy that my other father, Fritz, was dead by then (by the way, as a celebrated ditch digger he actually dug his own grave only days before he died in some kind of strange premonition of the brain aneurysm that was to take his life), and didn't live to learn the truth about Gertie and her whoring ways. When Morty DeMarco, on hearing of my father's death, offered to put Fritz on his meat lathe and take off some of his body weight as to make him more presentable for an open-casket funereal, I almost spat in DeMarco's face. But then I remembered that I was the son of a ditch digger and had a reputation and my father's legacy to uphold in the community so I simply grabbed DeMarco's testicles, gave them a hard squeeze and muttered, "Give me a light, shrimp, and make it snappy," as I waved a long, Cohiba Lanceros Cuban cigar in his face. Let me tell you, I've never seen a man drop a hacksaw faster than DeMarco did at that moment, except for my friend Muncie who cut off his thumb in wood shop in the 7th grade. I actually found the severed thumb under the vice bench but I quickly hid it in my pocket, dried it out and to this day I wear it like a talisman around my neck and occasionally kiss it, like you would a picture of a saint or the toes of Jesus Christ on the cross or the Virgin Mary's image baked into a breakfast croissant, to bring me inspiration. In fact, I truly believe that if it wasn't for that dried-up old thumb, I'd still be lingering like a moldy old odour or my Uncle Glutzy on the pull-out sofa at Thanksgiving, in my basement apartment rather than living in a swanky penthouse suite with my cheese emulsifiers and antique hacksaw collection, having my pick from any of the women with unwanted body hair that I meet at the laundromat I frequent to keep myself grounded and in touch with the proletariat class from where I once came and still come, but in vaginas rather than in old dollar-store dishcloths or lint-covered athletic socks that I find under my Louis IV canopied bed which I bought with my first royalty cheque. But back to DeMarco. He couldn't get his hand under his blood and meat-grease smeared apron quick enough fishing for a disposable lighter and when he finally found one and lit my cigar with a trembling hand, sweat beading his balding, gourd-shaped head from fear and my unrelenting grip on his testes, I hissed in his face, close enough that he could smell the rotting goat meat between my teeth, "One day I'm going to turn you on your own meat lathe while you're still alive and once you're flayed I'm gonna make you dig your own grave and line it with used gauze from the hospital trauma ward and then throw you in there and make you sing an Olivia Newton John medley while I cover you with dirt until you're buried alive." That was the second-to-last time I saw Morty DeMarco. The last time was when he was squeezed back into his hot pants and working a truck-stop glory-hole outside of Ethelsville, Alabama, after being run out of Pickle Lake due to a tainted goat meat scandal at the Calypso meat-packing plant. Need I say I succumbed to the temptation, especially with my new penis in place and though Morty couldn't see whose penis he was fellating due to the wall between us, I somehow felt this avenged my father, Fritz, for being deceived by Morty and my whore-mongering mother, Gertie, and subsequently going to his grave not knowing the travesty played out behind his back by Morty and Gertie on a wide range of stained and squeaky motel beds while Fritz slaved away unwittingly in the cold ditches of Pickle Lake. The oddness of being given a blowjob by my own illegitimate father was not lost on me and the added strangeness of my recent sex-change making this event even possible in the first place really was a bit of a brain twister but hey, that's why we have guys like Sigmund Freud and I realized I didn't have time to decipher such things. I had places to go and people to see and a blowjob from my backstabbing father through a glory-hole in an Alabama truck-stop wasn't going to stop me from achieving my dreams. 
In the above passage, Lipsy makes mention of calling Morty DeMarco a 'shrimp' and this is no coincidence. The DeMarco family, for generations, have all been dwarfs and midgets, as evidenced in the above photograph taken at the annual DeMarco family reunion seance and picnic. Morty was actually the first in the line not to be born a little person and for this he has garnered both the admiration and disgust of his extended family. Some felt he should have been drowned in the river at birth, others have been only more than happy to use him to reach items on the higher shelves at the grocery store on their shopping trips. As an added note it is amazing how much food these little folk can put away at the dinner table.
Whew! That's all I can say when Lipsy Narvin starts laying down the words like he's driving home railroad spikes into the brains of unsuspecting readers. The above selection carries all the poignancy of a baby seal being clubbed to death on a barren and icy Arctic sea and yet the humour shines through because if you don't get a chuckle out of that last little scenario in an Alabama truck-stop then maybe you should have your funny bone examined. Or possibly removed. Honestly, stuff like this doesn't grow on trees and if it did I wonder what fruit it would bear and whether you could even make juice out of it or a nice compote or jam or jelly. Nevertheless, fruit-bearing or not, Lipsy is mining the fruit of his loins or someone's loins and it's loin chops and loin cloths for everyone as far as this reader is concerned. The final essay in the book is a fitting denouement to Lipsy's many adventures and astute observations. Entitled, Hacksaws and Rabbit Paws, it's truly an insight into Lipsy Narvin's go-getter attitude and his refusal to take 'no' for an answer, even when surgeons told him he'd make an even uglier man than a woman. It's also a wonderful testament to his entrepreneurial spirit, even if a few hundred cute bunnies had to lose their feet so Lipsy could fulfill his dreams. But let's let Lipsy tell it best in this side-splitting excerpt.

As well as being a preeminent humorist, Lipsy is also know for his authoritative works on hacksaw techniques. The top diagram is from his manual, Hacksaw Do's & Dont's, A Primer For Beginner Hacksaw Enthusiasts, and whether you're a neophyte or a pro, this volume is filled with indispensable information for all your hacksaw needs and queries. Felcher Blangford, president of the North American Hacksaw Society, has stated that no one should even be allowed to handle a hacksaw until they have read this book. Pictured directly above is Lipsy's revered hacksaw collection, framed, for display purposes by large, machinist's hammers. Once a year Lipsy opens his collection to the public and line-ups form around the block of the condo development where he lives as hacksaw lovers from around the world gather for a glimpse at this hacksaw mecca.
 All I knew, even at an early age, smart child that I was, was that penises didn't grow on trees so if I wanted to ditch the old hoo-hah and get myself a ding-dong, it was going to take a little more than wishes made while blowing out birthday candles or asking Santa for a shiny new schlong with a purple bow tied around it. What I really understood, as a ditch-digger's daughter, was that you had to work hard for your money, whether you wanted to buy a Thanksgiving turkey, a pogo stick, a carpet sample book or hormone treatments. No one was going to hand you a penis on a silver tray although I do believe in the surgery, it did lie on a stainless steel silver-hued tray for a while before they attached it to my body. Anyway, one day while out foraging for flugleberries and fungus in the woods near my parent's place, I realized, after hearing so much rustling and bustling about in the surrounding shrubbery, that Pickle Lake was rife with wild bunnies. At that moment I had a brainstorm that hit like a spark from a downed power line and I thought, "Hello rabbits, goodbye penis envy or goodbye rabbits, hello testes," and so my fortune was made. The residents of Pickle Lake are a superstitious bunch and banking on that and the fact that people everywhere were probably pretty much the same, I decided to start my own lucky rabbit's foot business and make ends meet while adding the meat to my end and in the end the end justifiying the means as the dead, footless rabbits started piling up around me. Truth be told, I did shed a bit of a tear each time a little thumper met his or her maker, pink noses twitching in anticipation of the carrot I dangled in front of them while my other hand located a ball-peen hammer for stunning them and then a hacksaw to finish the work. It turned out my lucky rabbit's foot business was a hit and the orders were keeping me hopping, even though my quarry could no longer hop but that's the cost of free enterprise. It wasn't long before I was branching out to neighbouring townships and counties as I had decimated the local Pickle Lake rabbit population but ambition and penis envy drove me forward through the slaughter like a Viking trying to achieve Valhalla. Do I regret the little bunny lives it cost in order for me to realize my dreams? A good question but the answer is best left for another time because I'm having too much fun melting urinal pucks with my steady and copious stream.

There you have it. Lipsy Narvin at his best. It's no wonder the man is so revered for both his hacksaws and his humor because when you're an original everything is second best and no doubt made overseas, whether it be a rabbit's foot, a penis, an adult diaper, a hacksaw or a humorous essay. All I can say is Lipsy's words will leap right off the page, land on your pants and give you a lap dance, albeit one from an overly large and very hairy man but you won't notice from all the gas-passing and laughing you'll be doing. Kudos to you Mr. Narvin, kudos to you. May you live another day to suffer another contusion so that your legion of fans everywhere might bruise their funny bones on the sofas and end tables of your despair and confusion.