Friday, 30 September 2016

Fishbone's Song by Gary Paulsen Review


An orphan remembers the hillbilly geezer who raised him, Fishbone, down South where they lived in a country shack, drank ‘shine, hunted, and drawled Southern blather that most people would find too obvious to say out loud but these simpletons consider wisdom. Plot? What’re you, a communiss?! We don’t need no stinkin’ plot! (Gets out banjo, plucks Deliverance ditty) Mmm, I declare that thar pig sure looks mighty purty today… 

I remember really enjoying Hatchet when I was a kid so I thought checking in on Gary Paulsen to see what he was up to these days might be fun – how I came to rue that impulse! Fishbone’s Song is utter drivel. Sometimes favoured childhood authors should be left in the past. 

Nothing – NOTHING – happens! Fishbone tells our narrator about his hardscrabble upbringing so that’s why he keeps cans of spam lying around but doesn’t touch them – theys only for the real hard times, see? So the orphan has to hunt for his food leading to passages where he hunts for frogs and fish… and those are the “exciting” parts of the book! Fishbone recollects fighting in the Korean war and a Native American friend who went drunk driving and died in a car accident. Then each interminable chapter ends with a pitiful “song” by Fishbone like this:

"Witching Boy,
Witching boy,
in the night,
in the night. 
Witching boy, 
brings the light, 
brings the light. 
For everyone to see, 
and know.
Witching boy, 
brings the glow, 
of life. 
Shine on, shine on, Witching Boy."

The narrative is written in this droning Southern twang that becomes irritating almost instantly and never lets up until the end. “Gosh darnit, ain’t I so folksy and twee!?” – ugh. There’s also a dog on the cover but I don’t recall seeing one mentioned in the “story”. Then again I was so bored the entire time it’s entirely possible my attention wandered during the passages where the dog showed up. And if he did, like every other “character” in this snoozefest, he probably did fuck all to warrant his inclusion anyway! 

Who exactly is the audience for this crap? The basic writing style makes it seem like it’s aimed at younger readers and I know Paulsen writes kid’s books but I can’t imagine any kid being the least bit engaged with this tripe. Most kids, as well as readers of all ages, tend to enjoy stories where stuff happens rather than having two poorly written “characters” witter garbage at each other. The intended audience is probably Gary Paulsen hence why he doesn’t make an effort to be entertaining or interesting to anyone else. 

Hatchet was a loooooooooooooooong time ago, eh?

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