Friday, March 25, 2005

RATED F, by Todd C. Noker (iUniverse)

When you think about how difficult it is to hit an agent on the right day and an editor at the right moment in order to get a book deal, the odds of some books ever finding traditional print are near zero. Consider the book FIGHT CLUB by Chuck Palahniuk. Excellent book--but seriously, what were the odds?

Such might have been the fate for RATED F by Todd C. Noker (whose book, by the way, distinctly resembles the style of the aforementioned Palahniuk.) Compelling writing, but I can't imagine how he might have explained the story in a brief query.

Consider the first sentence:

"What you're gonna do," he says, leaning over the counter, shoving the barrel of the gun under my chin, "is put my clothes on."

Before I read anymore, I made sure I had a place to sit.

RATED F is (as simply as I can state it) about the place/struggle of media censorship. The protagonist develops a rather clever (though challening) idea: edit R-rated moves down so they can be viewed by a general audience. As the story progresses, his talent for editing provokes more invasive and creative requirements (like the guy who dumps his home movies on the counter and requests that his wife be removed from the tapes) that ultimately makes things spiral out of control.

The novel is brief (again, like FIGHT CLUB) at a mere 165 pages, but it's tightly packed full of humor and sarcastic wit. As the book moves forward, the action becomes more absurd and some of the characters that make an appearance will surprise you--but don't let that scare you off. ANIMAL FARM is quite engrossing, though I've yet to see a pig speak, eh?

It is overall, I suppose, a primer on censorship. But whether you care about it or not, you will love this book. It'll keep you laughing and the pages with turn themselves. The book is quite like another POD book I mentioned in my very first post: LORD VISHNU'S LOVE HANDLES by Will Clarke--and that one is being re-released in hardcover by Simon & Schuster this summer. Who knows--maybe the stars will align that magical way more than once.

RATED F is clever, witty and engrossing. Pick it up; there's that huge gap between the NCAA tourney and May Sweeps.