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TROPHY by Michael Griffith Kirkus Star


by Michael Griffith

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8101-5218-5
Publisher: Northwestern Univ.

Vada Prickett is dying, pinned under a stupendous stuffed bear, thinking about his short life and a fond-of-puns God enjoying the "Moon over My Hammy" breakfast at the local Denny's.

With word play sparkling and crackling across the pages, Griffith cuts and polishes his story with esoteric Bob Dylan–like references and Stephen Wright's sometimes piquant and sardonic observations. Vada, not quite 30 and "waiting … for his life to start," was helping his neighbor and best friend, Wyatt Yancey, slip one final trophy into his house before Yancey's marriage to his taxidermy-hating fiancée, Darla. Vada too loves Darla, which adds to the fun. In the minutes between bear-crush and death, Vada recalls his youth, son of a wildlife agent father and a homemaker with the moxie to use a ballpoint pen in an emergency tracheotomy. Vic Prickett's friendship with the rich and fun-loving Reid Yancey led to the Pricketts enjoying a ritzy lake-side development home near Columbia, S.C. A decent student, Vada reached his first year of college in pursuit of his dream, becoming a large-animal vet. And then his parents were killed by an errant poultry truck while hauling the household trash to the dump. Always a half-beat off in the social dance and all matters practical, Vada, sans parents, has floundered aimlessly as a "Hose Attendant" at the Caw-Caw Car Wash, domain of an admirer of Mussolini, Il Duce. Told in the third-person, the author also often addresses the reader directly: "reader, we are donkeys who pin on our own tails." The novel is a surrealistic meditation on, and a send-up of, the American dream, consumerism, God, the modern family and assorted other human foibles, complete with a semi-pro evangelical Christian baseball team, the Risen, with a mascot named "Pablo the Bible-believing Possum." Griffith's word wizardy, his facile puns, his insight into the human heart and his topsy-turvy sardonic approach make for a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

A quirky, imaginative, dazzling black comedy.