A parrot turns into a human in this debut novel from Scotland native Deans.
Executive Bob T. Hash III, founder and CEO of the Acme Institute, which provides language courses to business folks, one day decides to travel to Acapulco in the disguise of Señor Gonzalez. At the same time his personal assistant, Miss Scarlett, also “mysteriously” disappears. And still at the same time, an African grey parrot at Hash’s home comes crashing down off his perch, emerging as a physical double of Hash himself. The parrot doesn’t know how this happened, but he quickly enters Hash’s life since the executive is conveniently away, supposedly on that business trip to Mexico. The parrot retains his consciousness even as he enters into the minutiae of Hash’s life, including bedding his wife, Matilda. Well, why not? The parrot “…is both an honorable and a monogamous coupler.” Hash/Parrot begins to feel quite comfortable in his new life, finding that “the office chores [he] was expected to perform required little more…[than] a hand shake, a wave, and a smile.” He becomes a more aggressive boss, editing the errors out of the Acme Institute’s major publication, Forward with English!, and seeing it through the eighth edition. Along the way the parrot uses the conventions and cheerleading of language publications (e.g., “Delivering a Sales Pitch,” “Idiomatic Expressions and Phrasal Verbs”) to advance his narrative. Things get a bit sticky when, toward the end of the novel, the real Bob T. Hash III shows up and bewilderingly confronts his double.
Outrageous naming (Harry Dig, the undertaker; Miss Happ, an office worker) and absurd narrative techniques can’t rescue this novel from being self-consciously cute and overly clever.