THE SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR FIRE ENGINE or The blithering Thithering Djinn by Donald Barthelme

THE SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR FIRE ENGINE or The blithering Thithering Djinn

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Fopderol! as the pirate says. . . . ""'I like your beard,' Matilda said."" ""'I knitted it myself. I have them in four different colors. Brown, brown, brown, and brown.'"" This is what's commonly known as camp -- Through the Looking Glass Darkly? -- a Victorian spoof buffo: ""'here comes the cat-seller. That means it's just about time for the elephant to fall down the hill.'"" Those are the words of the djinn, Matilda's erstwhile host, and it all starts when she goes to the yard and discovers ""that a mysterious Chinese house. . . had grown there overnight"" (""SUBURBAN DISTURBANCE""). ""Matilda was disappointed. Site had wanted a fire engine"" -- but before the book closes sire gets one: on the morning after ""the escapade"" (for which site politely thanks the generous djinn), a ""magnificent fire engine, a real Silsby,"" is standing where the Chinese house had been; ""instead of being sparkling red, it was bright green"" (""'The djinn must not know too much about fire engines,' Matilda thought. 'But green is a beautiful color too'""). Site shares it with her lather and mother, ""that gay and laughing couple"" who are the picture of ""CONTENTMENT: Industry and Frugality"" in the closing collage. All the illustrations are made, per the jacket, entirely of 19th-century engravings, and they're only one reason why this certainly slightly irregular enterprise is just for children over 35.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1971
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux