MONDO JAMES DEAN by Richard Peabody

MONDO JAMES DEAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In 23 stories, poems, and jottings, the fifties teen icon gets the full treatment hitherto reserved for Peabody and Ebersole's Mondo tributes to Elvis, Barbie, and Marilyn. Ever since his death at 24 in a car crash, the essence of Dean's cult standing has always been his unfinished status, his promise cut short so young, so it makes sense for the authors to use unusual freedom in reinventing him. Michael Hemingson takes him deep into Anne Rice territory; Stephanie Hart entangles him with the gorgeously misunderstood Cal Trask; Lewis Shiner shows that it's Dean, not Elvis, who had run-ins with space aliens; Jack C. Haldeman imagines him as a race-car driver (with Sal Mineo as his Boy Wonder mechanic and Natalie Wood as a pert Saturday Evening Post reporter); Louisa Ermelino packs him off to modern-day Afghanistan; and James Finney Boylan, in the volume's most amusing conceit, unmasks him as Jimmy Dean, the Sausage King. For a (barely) different point of view, try David Plumb's sketch of Dean's fictitious son, Michael Marton's testimonial from his high-school English teacher, Hilary Howard's discovery that Dean is her new guardian angel (``You are hereby free of all your neurotic hang-ups. Have a cigarette''), or Bentley Little's search for the lug wrench Dean tossed out of the frame in Rebel Without a Cause. All through these pieces, though--and in the excerpts from Ed Graczyk's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Edwin Corley's Farewell My Slightly Tarnished Hero, and the poems by Ai, Reuben Jackson, Tino Villanueva, and Terence Winch--the tabula rasa is remarkably consistent: a surly yet sensitive sex machine mounted on fast cars or cycles, alienated as all getout. In fact, the immitigably 50's Dean is so stiff and unyielding in story after story that all too often he seems like an interloper at his own homage.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-14121-1
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1995




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