captainfreedom

BY SEAN CLARK

Author: G. Xavier Robillard

Harper, 2009

Best eBook Deal: HarperCollins

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Captain Freedom: A Superhero’s Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves is a social satire written in the tradition of George Saunders and Kurt Vonnegut, amongst others. Freedom takes cuts at most every aspect of American society–if you ever find yourself unsure of just what Robillard’s angle is at a given point, the chapter titles will help steer you. Ultimately, the book’s undoing is its large scope: it tries to tackle too much and loses focus in the effort.

Vonnegut was a master at pulling back, at separating the narration and the action. And Saunders’s brilliance lies in his staccato zaniness. Robillard takes neither approach, though he should have. Captain Freedom is far too long for what it is, and there is zero respite from the blistering barrage of jokes. Even the funniest jokes by the funniest comedians will lose their humor when strung together like cranberries on a Christmas tree. Unfortunately, the jokes here aren’t really all that funny to begin with.

I pin my hopes on that other medium: celluloid. (No, I’m not talking about the unsightly skin condition.) I shop around scripts for the Captain Freedom movie.

This is a pretty good example of par for Robillard’s joke course. 258 pages of that can become downright grating.

Captain Freedom has its moments, and Robillard is undeniably a clever wit. The book probably would have made an excellent short story or novella, but as a full length novel the humor quickly becomes monotonous. With no breaks in the assault of puns and jokes, what should be a humorous romp reads more like a stumbling bore.

Other books: Deadeye Dick (Vonnegut), Pastoralia (Saunders), Frisco Pigeon Mambo (Payne)

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