by Penn Jillette
What an exhilirating piece of fiction this book turned out to be! I went in with certain expectations - as it seems a person must when reading a book by the larger, louder, bravado-filled half of the Penn and Teller comedy-magic team - and had those expectations fulfilled and thensome.
On to the story. A New York City police diver - you know, the guys who go swimming in polluted rivers to find dead bodies and such - retrieves a female body from the Hudson River one day, and - wouldn't you know it - it's a former girlfriend of his. In fact, this girl could have been The One. So, the diver, along with - I'm not making this up - his homosexual stylist, sets out on a vigilante mission to find the killer, which gets even more complex when five other bodies are found that seem to be related to this murder. Pedestrian plot, to be sure.
Oh, but wait, this entire story is narrated by the diver's sock monkey, Dickie, and now we begin to see the brilliance of the book. It's got style out the wazoo, but what's not immediately apparent is that Penn - yes the comedy magician - has got ideas. And ideas that actually mean something in the grander scheme of things. Where do we come from? What is our purpose? Why does it matter whether we kill people? Is someone really going to punish us for our trespasses?
Sock is filled with pop culture references; in fact, nearly every paragraph in the book ends with a song lyric or slogan of some kind. Having what I feel is a pretty large wealth of pop culture knowledge, there were still a bunch that I didn't get, but that didn't detract from the story at all, because each was designed to go along with the preceding paragraph.
I must obviously recommend this book with my highest approval rating, even though I don't actually have an approval rating system. I think you too will be surprised at the depth of Penn's insight. He's certainly got a great future in writing if he so chooses.
January 23, 2005