James Whorton
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Buy *Frankland* online


James Whorton
Free Press
288 pages
January 2005
rated 2 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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Here is a situation where positive press coverage created a negative effect. For some reason, there is a quote on the back cover of this book that says, ..."Frankland is boisterous, bigtime entertainment in the tradition of John Kennedy Toole ..." This isn't exactly boisterous, though it has its moments, and while it may be smalltime entertainment, what it certainly isn't is in the tradition of John Kennedy Toole. Toole was a maverick, a wunderkind, a one-of-a-kind magician who created a riotous character and a riotous book. And even being compared to him is a bad thing, because no one is that funny or irreverent or capable of producing a work of such remarkable quality. And when you keep waiting for that Toole comparison to kick in, for his wonderful sense of wordplay to be recreated, you're left with an empty bag and a book that pales and a writer who ends up being foolish because someone had the stupid audacity to compare you this writer of classic stature.

Anyway, this isn't a bad book, it just doesn't quite get going. Yes, John H. Tolley finds himself in some absurdist situations, has some peculiar physical traits, and an unabiding love for president Andrew Johnson. That being said, the book doesn't know whether it's a mystery, humorous treatise, or ironic commentary.

Whoever allowed that quote to go on the jacket of this book deserves to be fired. Without it, this book still isn't spectacular, but at least you're not constantly waiting for something brilliant to happen.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2005

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