In selecting a literary parody for a recent book challenge, I found myself struggling a great deal. Not one to turn to the classics, I wanted to select a novel that may accentuate a book I read and did not entirely enjoy, while also not choose a parody that had been flogged to death. Turning to this piece by Henry Beard and Douglas Kenney, I felt that I might be in good hands. I will be the first to admit, Tolkien is not for me. Please, gasp now and shun me as you go to fetch all the rotten eggs and tomatoes you can carry. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy with gritted teeth when asked to do so by someone and found myself celebrating the end. So, in choosing this parody, I hoped to open my eyes up and be able to laugh at some of the silliness of the highly-successful three box set that it seems everyone has read and enjoyed. Beard and Kenney open with the admission that they are not trying to fill the shoes that Tolkien left, but prefer to write something satirical for their own amusement. With that, I entered the world of Lower Middle-Earth. The story centres around Dildo (how poignant a name) and his nephew, Frito, who are sent on a mission by the illustrious wizard, Goodgulf. Along the way, they encounter numerous heroes and villains, all of whom possess monikers of present-day items or concepts and whose bumbling presents a true Hobbit-esque adventure. Lower Middle-Earth is in danger of being enslaved by Sorhed, though Frito has been handed a less than flashy ring to help protect him. As this (thankfully) short quest continues, fans of the original series will find parallels and new differences to make them laugh, though I suspect that a dislike of the foundational books left me rolling my eyes and injecting only the odd snicker at some one-liners. I choose not to recount much of the narrative, as the book seems to have continued on that fantasy-based adventure and did not modernise it enough for me to have a strong handle on things. Still, I am sure that many will love this book, both those who are Tolkien fans and others who enjoy a good parody. Deemed the ‘parody that laid the groundwork for this literary genre’, Beard and Kenney have done much with this and surely some collective will find it amusing.
One might ask “why would you ever read this book?”. To that person, I can strongly assert that I am not entirely sure. Perhaps I needed a quick parody, or even something that could light my spirits. Surely I would not want to touch a satire of a book I have not read, in case there are narrative parallels whose humour is lost on those who do not know the original story. Still, I struggled and praised whatever Being there is when it was all said and done. Beard and Kenney do a wonderful job with name changes and modernising things in that regard, from the various creatures that Frito encounters through to the songs that are embedded throughout. I can admit that these were well-crafted and I did chuckle, if only out of eye-rolling dismissal. The story seems to be similar, though not entirely true to the Tolkien original, though its brevity is surely a godsend in the long run. There will be those who applaud the story and others who spit in the direction of this satire, but I will step back and let that literary war commence as I check another category off on my reading challenge. Onwards to something more my style…
Kudos, Messrs. Beard and Kennedy, as you have surely stirred up the pot. I hope you have received many wonderful comments on your work and that others find the glory you can expect in reviews. It simply was not for me.
This book fulfills Equinox I (A Book for All Seasons) Book Challenge for Topic #5: A Book That is a Spoof of a Literary Classic
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons