07 December 2017

A Cookie Too Far

Here, plumb spang in the middle of re-reading the wonderful, beguiling, fu-fu-funny autobiography of Goshen's favorite son, Phil Proctor, I was ready to write the review.  It has posted to Amazon, but here, Seekers, is the Unexpurgated Version:

The Fortune Cookie That Got Away

It isn't enough to say, this is the More Sugar you've clamored for all these years. We've all yearned for that second tub of slaw, and here the justly celebrated and certified pre-cloned Philip Proctor has drawn the curtain at last to reveal the flaming Ford.

Has he told us too much? You'll never know until you follow the yellow rubber line to your seat. As we begin reading this Psychic, Psurrealistic Pstory with all its rich detail, the author's winning, humane tone (which grounds the elemental force of his quicksilver sense of humor), and with the seemingly inexhaustible cast with which the stage of his life has been peopled, the good Proctor's head-spinning autobiographical no-regrets vignettes have us by the thrusters.

My mind, too, by design owes more to the 4 or 5 Crazy Guys than my analyst could, without violating confidences, attest to, let alone relate. Had I stumbled upon the vast alien warehouse in which my several grammar schools have been tidily crated & stacked (and I know they have, I just haven't found the warehouse yet) the awe thus inspired would scarcely vie with the candid tour of his life whereon Phil P. leadeth us.

In writing his stories and novels, P.G. Wodehouse arranged his narrative so that the reader would be sure to find a laugh on every page. Mr. Proctor does this, and more; for I find not only amusement on each page, but something educative, as well. ("Unless you're careful," as my late Dad was wont to say, "you'll learn something new every day.")

With all good-faith attempt not to spoil anything for anyone – nowhere else, but in Gospodin Proctor's non-noir memoir, have I learnt:  the real purpose of Soviet-era movie-houses;  the flight path of Og's pants;  the true story behind "Yale Distorts";  how a theatrical professional copes with the irresistible reflex provoked by the appearance of a cross-eyed cat wrangler;  just how tough Vaughn Meader's luck was;  the product which an industry paid out $650K to bury forever – "Nasal Hipstick";  and much else which propriety and fairness to the author suggests I ought to leave it to you, Gentle Reader, to buy the book and find out for your own self.

All right, so I've absorbed a great load of learning, and was amused practically beyond human endurance in the process, but is it any use?  Is anything any use?  As Bartholomew Fayrsijn, the great Phleggmish philosopher and mutton confectioner argued, "Just dig a hole deep enough, and if you're not in orbit in those dark times then, when will you ever be?  Fuck you, too."  Sure, you could be sealed in a steel box just like Nino, but what chance do you stand of thinking your way out again, if you don't read this book?  Twenty years later, and it will still knock you out.

From here, the story is visualization.  Reading this book did what I asked of it, but it did far more, and we're still trying to put the kitchen garden back in order, a week later.  What did I expect of the book?  That it would fill me in on the History, Linear and Otherwise, of The Firesign Theatre;  that it would instruct me in a great deal else of Philip Proctor's activity, at least of all that has so far been declassified;  and that I would know more of Phil (I call him "Phil," though he'll wring my neck if he catches me at it) as a person, as a Mensch, как человек, as a result.  Well, seekers, I have been informed, at my hotel.  I was re-grooved, without the need of being taken away, no zizzing or dripping.  But if I expected a Groupon for appetizers for two and a pitcher of apple-cinnamon mojitos at Ernie's Chock-o'-Taqueria in San Clamarón, well, I've got another think coming, and I can wait.

If I have not yet left you with the semi-delible impression that this is the best book I have read this year, let me conclude with the straightest poop of all, an instance of instant inspiration from one of innumerable, hefty slices of life under which this literary pie plate groans so copiously.  We learn that Phil's maternal grandmother's family, the Stivers (this is in the chapter which, in an unauthorized pirate edition, was headed "Encounter in Goshen") were makers of furniture and coffins.  In a flash, it was revealed to me:  And what is a coffin, but the last piece of furniture you'll ever need?"

I read this book (I first saw it in the author's own hands, not in vain but in Washington, D.C.), I love it – the book, not the District – and I encourage any of you who can still read, at any time when you come down out of the tree where you've sat to learn how to play the flute, to read it and love it yourselves.

Read it, love it, read it again.

Karl Henning
Boston, Mass.

P.S./ [This does not appear in the review.]  Considering the running commentary on the radio shows which have been handed down to us via the Duke of Madness Motors release, about The Words You Can't Say on the Air – it is just too danged funny that the automated Amazon algorithm rejected my review for containing an allusive, Not Abusive!, "Fuck you, too!" Which of course were Principal Poop's stirring words in the wings of the Pep Rally.  Welcome to The Future!

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