Monday, 4 January 2010

Pygmy


Well best to hit the ground running I guess, consider this a prototype if you will , I'll try my best avoid spoilers where the plot is concerned but will give a general outline so be warned
"He who owns the Youth gains the Future". Adolph Hitler.

Heres a diatribe on a book I've just read recently, Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk (of Fight club fame)tells the fictional account of Operative 67 -the Pygmy from the title so dubbed by the Americans due to his diminutive size- and other operatives all children of around 13 years old who infiltrate the United States via a Church sponsored exchange program for the fulfilment of Operation Havoc, a mysterious and no doubt sinister plot worthy of Machiavelli himself.

One major make or break thing to mention with this book is the Prose. It is not your standard fictional narrative, it is in the style of a form of pigeon English as it comes the point of view of Operative Pygmy and while very apt has made this book for some unreadable, I very strongly advise those who are curious about this book to read the free excerpt from amazon first before you decide whether or not to buy this somewhat pricey book.

The book is an exercise in satire of the consumerist American lifestyle with a bonus wry look at its polar opposite, The Anti-America (AA) if you will . Which is the best description of the land where Pygmy comes from, Its never actually named or to be precise it is named but censored as is the name of the American town Pygmy infiltrates and the dates that these events take place, as the book is set out as a series of reports from Pygmy to a Spy master and therefore has all traceable information is redacted. Oh and by the way don't think that image on the cover of a toy Chinese Red Guard is a clue some of Pygmies fellow operatives have Asiatic names like Ling, whereas others have Slavic names such as Oleg and Pavel and at least one is describe as having a "Caucasoid" skull.

What is clear is that it is in all things the opposite to America, for example America is individualistic, where as Pygmy's land is thoroughly Totalitarian to quote "Useless American Poetry,and music no celebrate sacrifice lifetime to preserve the state", America is democratic where as AA is a one party state that replenishes its ranks from a small minority who are selected for there talents they show from the age of four. America is Capitalist where as AA is if not socialist then at least Communal like in structure. One other way that Chuck shows us AA s world and cleverly at the same time cloaks it is in Pygmy's education. Every lesson that Pygmy has been taught from Martial arts to Chemistry has been summed up by a qoute from one the guiding philosophers of the state all of which did exist, what confuses the matter in placing AA s ideology is that they are across the spectrum from <Stalin to Trotsky, To Bakunin through to Hitler and Mussolini, Even Pinochet and Idi Amin and the relatively speaking obscure Austrian Socialist Agitator Johann Most all recited with utmost respect and reverence.

The Americans in the book however are sadly all to familiar, there fat little narcissists who are more interested in pleasure whether it be food, masturbation, sex, or just aggression. There also extremely self satisfied and ignorant of others, Pygmy's host family never bother to find out what his name is, and at one point at a ceremony that is supposed to honour his bravery in an action (which I won't spoil here), the orator refers to his home as a "backward culture mired in the failed social experiments and misguided politics of long ago history" and then goes on to describe him as a "stunted, child , crusted with scabs and stooped with rickets with a stomach bloated with malnutrition and sparse thin hair he arrived illiterate and confused" when reading outbursts like this its important to recall how Pygmy is so strong and fit that he kill with one move, and during a "spelling bee" he and the rest of the Operatives stay on over 6 hours after the last American student was defeated.

But that is the point as this book is like fight club a big take that to this slovenly (both physically and mentally) and it does it well. It might seem like I'm being negative but I'm really not, its satire is biting and is quite funny once you get used to the unusual prose is a very enjoyable read until of course you get to the ending.

I hate the ending, I really hate the ending, I won't go into here as that would be spoiling but what I will say is this the last ten pages are awful and genuine feel ripped off.

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