Friday, June 27, 2008

Mr. Fooster: Traveling on a Whim by Tom Corwin & Craig Frazier

I've seen this book generally cited as if its full title was Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim, but the book itself clearly differentiates between title (Mr. Fooster) and subtitle (Traveling on a Whim) on cover, spine, and title page -- though not in the CIP data on the copyright page -- so I'm doing that as well.

Mr. Fooster is a slim, heavily-illustrated book at a low price point, designed to sit near the cash-wrap as an impulse purchase. Each spread has a one-page illustration by Frazier, in a light brown tone with lots of little lines for shading and more than its share of crosshatching as well. The facing page has a paragraph -- rarely, more than that -- of the story by Corwin.

It's narrated from a third-person omniscient perspective, though it spends most of the time in Fooster's skull. And this is good, since Fooster never actually speaks, and otherwise he'd be a bit enigmatic.

Mr. Fooster's eleven chapters add up to about five separate stories, in each of which Fooster goes out wandering -- traveling on a whim, as the book repeatedly hammers home -- and then something odd happens. He usually deals with the odd something by blowing a bubble, using a bottle and wand he always keeps with him. And the bubble magically makes everything better, by forming some object which is precisely what is needed. Each story then ends, as if it had just delivered a moral but without the moral itself.

Mr. Fooster has the form of an allegory, but I haven't been able to make the parallels come into focus -- it feels like a book that desperately wants to teach a lesson, but can't think of any lessons to teach. (Other than, perhaps, the very flabby one of "take a look at the world around you.")

Fooster is also fond of musing on odd questions -- some of which are very debased existentialism, some of which are minor-comedian-level wordplay, and some of which would be easily answered by anyone who bothered to do any research. I'd be much more impressed by him if he weren't such a derivative and sloppy thinker.

Mr. Fooster is short and harmless; I vaguely enjoyed it, for the same reason that one smiles at a cute slobbery puppy, even if he is making a mess on the rug. But it's clearly reaching for profundity, and falling very short. I am terribly cynical, so I'm afraid that I assume that this Mr. Fooster will only be the first of many and that it will sell far, far too many copies. But, to me, it reads like a version of Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts that doesn't know that it's a joke.

1 comment:

ThRiNiDiR said...

hehe, great take on the book, I wish I could write such snarky, but in the end supportive, review :)

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