Sunday, March 08, 2009


By John Klawitter
Double Dragon Publishing
Trade Paper edition
296 pages, October, 2008

Consider Brando Mahr. Badly brain damaged in Viet Nam, he has rehabilitated, mostly by his own efforts, and now is metamorphosed into one of perhaps hundreds doing what he does. He lives in California, where he has a sort of career as a producer/director/talent scout for movie studios and for television. Mahr has developed a number of interesting contacts.

After he was whisked out of that Southeastern jungle, he woke adrift and unable to either talk or think straight for a very long time. Ultimately he found a job in the bowels of the UCLA library where he retaught himself basic communication skills by reading 18th Century English stories. They’re called Penny Dreadnaughts. Hence his language is sometimes difficult and he’s sometimes given to epileptic episodes.

Enter ex-lineman Ripper Brown who wants Brando to produce a film of his, Brown’s, magnificent career in the NFL. Okay but when Brando starts doing research odd happenings occur, including the murder of Ripper’s toothsome wife. Naturally Brando is eyeballed by the LA cops for the killing and the dance is on.

The novel is a treasure of mordant humor, lovely tongue-in-cheek skewering of all manner of icons, obscure language and the introduction of an unusual and interesting protagonist. It starts slowly, and I had a little trouble getting going with it because the character development it possibly a little too long, but trust me, by the time you get to page 50, the momentum picks up, interest zooms and the ride begins.
At the heart if the story is a nifty scam built around a real NFL playoff game between the LA Rams and the Minnesota Vikings. The game was real, but the rest is pure fiction, the very enjoyable product of a sly, inventive mind.

As a final comment, I’ll just note that, given our penchant for categorization and precise labeling of everything, I pity the marketing department. Or, just label FOUL New, Fresh, Unusual.

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