Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BOOK REPORT: Voss, by David Ives

Voss-- by the playwright/novelist David Ives, is a great and quick read which I enjoyed immensely.  

Perhaps its because I have a penchant for made up Eastern European countries, or a jones for well written dialect comedy.  Perhaps a well-plotted adventure caper  told in epistolary style where the hero doesn't mean to get into trouble and manages to get out of it is just my cup of tea.  Whatever it is, I can tell you that I highly recommend that you read Voss.

The hero of the tale is Vospop Vsklzwczdsztwcky, or Voss for short.  In a series of letters to his best friend Meero Mrz, he chronicles his trials, triumphs, and tribulations as he and his depressive-prone father Bogdown and his delusionary uncle Shpoont smuggle themselves from their native country Slobovia to America in a shipping container full of black market cheese puffs.  During the course of these letters, Voss has his life threatened, meets a long lost sweetheart who is convinced that she is his fated betrothed, meets a Texas billionaire and his debutante daughter who takes an instant liking to him, and mistakenly uncovers a very shady medical operation which puts his dad's life in danger.   (And those are just SOME of the highlights of the book!)

Ives has a great ear for dialogue (which is almost immediately evident in the book, and is certainly evident in his plays)

Here's a sample from the first chapter, describing his ship ride:

The sheep goes up. My insides go down.  the sheep goes down.  My insides go up.  The sheep rolls to one side and I feel how small I am.  I take our ancient family pocket watch from my pocket and look at the time, hoping it will be America soon.  The sheep rolls again... 
I am no brave boy, Meero, as you know.  I am what is called in Eenglish a "worry wart."  This is what we call in Slobovian a furri fart.  America has no place for furri farts! 
I do not write you in Slobovian because I want to practice my Eenglishes.  This way in America, I will not sound like eediot.  The deefeecold thing about the Eenglish linguitch is the articles.  by articles I mean these words a, an, and the.  Very misterious words, these articles!  What is the difference between "A dog," "the dog," and "an dog"? 
These articles are hard to master because the Slobovian linguitch has no articles.  Slobovian pipple are too poor to have articles.  We donut say, "The dog chased the squirrel."  We say "Dog chased squirrel."  We donut say, "The toilet exploded."  We say, "Toilet exploded." Most often we say, "Toilet exploded again."

There's a lot of satire in this book, and you will recognize lots of cultural landmarks along the way, including some hilarious allusions to Peter Sellars classic Being There,  and the  Ken Kesey book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

At its best, Voss is kind of a combination of a Donald Westlake Dortmunder novel and a Leonard Ross Hyman Kaplan novel. But designed for young adults.

So read it already, and tell me what you think! Bushweck!

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