Monday, June 30, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #180: The Hoodoodad by Lewis Trondheim

Just yesterday -- Day 179 -- I covered Harum Scarum, the first book in Lewis Trondheim's "Spiffy Advenures of McConey" series to be published in English. There are ten books in all in that series -- six of them in a loose contemporary sequence, four others as one-offs in various historical eras and/or genre idioms, with versions of the main characters in similar roles -- but only one other has made it into the language I'm typing in now. So, unless you can read French, you'll have a deformed image of the series. And by "you," I of course mean me.

That other book is The Hoodoodad (aka Pichenettes in French), the second in the main modern sequence of the series, following McConey/Lapinot (the bunny) and his best friend/roommate Richie/Richard as what might be a curse mildly interferes with their daily lives as young men hanging out in the big city. (Again, which city is left vague: they go to Houston Street, implying NYC, but the houses and gendarmes and general atmosphere argue more strongly for Paris.)

Hoodoodad is a much looser book than Harum Scarum was: the latter has a tight plot driven by an ever-escalating thriller elements, while Hoodoodad can be better described as "our heroes take on a curse from a bum, argue about whether it exists at all, have humorous accidents, and remove the curse." The pleasures of Hoodoodad are more like Trondheim's great autobiographical comics: close observations of dialogue and body language, the humor in only slightly exaggerated everyday life. This volume is something like a good sitcom, taking characters already established and running them through a sequence of events that doesn't seriously change any of them, but leaves a feeling of imminent or possible change. (It's a lot like a French Seinfeld, actually, down to the obsessiveness about minor points of life.)

Hoodoodad is more of a "hanging out" book -- Richie does think he's cursed, and is trying to get rid of it, but that doesn't strongly drive the plot. But it's more fun, and probably more purely enjoyable, than Harum Scarum because of that looseness and expansiveness. Neither of these book are all that easy to find these days -- they're both out of print -- but I'd send new readers to Hoodoodad first by choice.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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