1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 8: If I Were You and The Last Drop, by L.Ron Hubbard

The infamous L. Ron Hubbard!  The father of Scientology and the prolific writer of pulp fiction during its golden age, and by golden age I mean the few years that it actually existed.  Before forming his own religion, he made a living turning out a book a week for practically a decade.  Were they any good? Meh.  They ranged from westerns, to fantasy, to travel narratives, jungle/pirate/anything-else-you-can-think-off adventure, and of course science fiction (those talents which he used to formulate the premise for his own religion).

 

So which genre does If I Were You fall under?  The circus-fantasy-black-magic-supernatural genre.  And it is easily the best circus-fantasy-black-magic-supernatural book I have ever read.  It is of course the only circus-fantasy-black-magic-supernatural book I’ve ever, and will ever read.  Of course, to say that it is the only one of its kind is a compliment in and of itself.  A midget at a circus, who makes his way through the day by entertaining other, usually via belittling disliked carnies (such as the one who has mystical supernatural powers through the black arts).  Of course, when the black-magic man dies, he gives his book-o-magic to the midget in hopes it serve as a curse.  The midget who dreams of being the circus’s ringmaster uses the magic to swap bodies with a crooked ring master, then back to his own, then to a lion tamer, then back to himself, and eventually steps up to ringmaster in his original form as the crooked ringmaster who had been skimming money from the circus.  All’s well that ends well.  And of course, with such quality prose, there is reference to classical literature, such as the passage where the midget announces that he’d “rather dig ditches, if [he] could stand up and look [his] fellow man in the eye instead of examining his shins” that be a success as a midget, clearly aligning himself with Achilles, who tells Odysseus that it would better to be a slave in heaven than a king of hell.  The midget’s love interest declares that “it’s better to be the best midget star in the world that a failure as a person”, a clear reference John Milton’s Paradise Lost, where Satan says the inverse, that it is better to be a king in hell, than a slave in heaven.  The work is so elevated by the prose and references to classical references, that when Hubbard writes that “the man was his soul, and not his body”, it seems he speaks in a tone that encourages us all to look past the physical and see people for who they are, an ideal that could truly change the world if everybody could just get on board with Hubbard’s ideology!  Perhaps by becoming a member of the Church of Scientology.  No?

 

And if that wasn’t enough for you, The Last Drop pushes the pair of works over the edge by reinventing the crime drama.  A bartender who wants to create the perfect drink gets a magical potion that shirks and enlarges people, but it is unknown to him, and so he become giant sized after testing out his drink, and when the mob’s local pick-up man comes to collect the protection money, he finds himself shrinking.  Hilarity and adventure ensues.  Its like Cocktail, meets The Godfather, meets Honey I Shrunk The Kids, meets Honey I Blew Up The Kids.  Again, a story unlike any I have ever heard.

 

If you like this:

Then there is no hope you and you should never vote.

 

 

Up next… I’m not sure.

 

Words I thought I’d look up:

 

Aplomb: Self-confident.

 

Pachydems:  Outside strict biological classification.

 

Capacious:  Capable of holding a large quantity.

 

Purveyed:  To supply provisions.

 

Sicced: Chase or attack.

 

Obsequious: Fully servile.

 

Rosinback: ??????

 

Spielers: To talk volubly.

 

Menagerie:  Keeping wild and exotic animals in captivity, initially before the development of modern zoos.

 

Temerity:  Rashness.

 

Egress:  The act of exiting.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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