Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Attic Piranhas - Marlin Williams

    2014; 182 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Contemporary Fiction.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Change is coming to the Elegant Watch Company, where Max Fagan works.  No one buys mechanical watches anymore, and Elegant Watch has been slow to fathom this.  They've been losing money for some time.

    Change is also coming to Max Fagan’s life. Given his lack of funds – he’s about to be evicted from his apartment – and dead-end job, you’d think he’d embrace it.  But occasionally, some people need a bit of a push to get them out of their rut.  Enjoy your hot dog, Max.

What’s To Like...
    Marlin Williams has recently finished a significant revising of The Attic Piranhas.  I read the earlier version in December 2012.  The review is here, and I’ll try to keep duplication of it here to a minimum.  Besides, lots of the book’s details have changed and my memory is understandably fuzzy, so it was a pleasant re-read.

    The essence of TAP is similar to A Confederacy of Dunces (reviewed here).  The humor is both weird and madcap, the protagonist charismatically unlikeable (is that an oxymoron?), and both have hot dog vendors.  But The Attic Piranhas is shorter, its pacing faster, and Max has a few more redeeming qualities than Ignatius.

    It also seemed like the storyline in the revised version is now more focused.  Charley and the Attic Piranhas are more clearly portrayed (they are also defined in the Amazon blurb, as well as in the second excerpt below) and the roles of Misters Wong and Sanderson now seem to fit more deftly into the plotline.  Of course, it is equally possible that the second reading just increased my understanding of what was going on.

    There’s a nice moral to the story about the impact of negative thoughts and feelings; and the author manages to pull this off without getting preachy.  The ending closes out the story neatly.  There’s no booze, drugs, or adult situations to offend sensitive minds, and just a single “sh*t” near the beginning.  So both YA and adult readers will enjoy this book.

    “Hey,” Max pointed to the pocket, “I gave you a twenty-dollar bill.  Where’s my change?”
    The vendor’s grin broadened.  “Change come from within.”
    “I’m talking about my money.”
    “Money,” Mr. Wong shook his head, “no matter.”  Then as he nodded, he said, “Change matter.”  (loc. 56)

    Charley stopped parading around on the scaffold and put a hand to his ear.  “Hear that?”
    Somewhere in the distance, Max could hear a faint rumble; it was almost like the sound he made when he blew bubbles through a straw into his glass of chocolate milk.
    Charley dropped his hand away from his ear.  “They’re coming.”
    “The attic piranhas.”  Charley tapped a finger against his forehead.  “You know, those little things that gnaw at you.  If you stand here much longer trying to make a decision, they’re going to catch up with you and eat you alive.  I’m not talking metaphorically, pal.  I’ve seen it happen a few times and it’s not a pretty sight.”  (loc. 590)

Kindle Details...
    The Attic Piranhas sells for $4.99 at Amazon; and ANAICT, this is Marlin Williams’ only full-length novel available for the Kindle.  He has seven short stories also for the Kindle, all priced $0.99, plus one collection of Short Stories, priced $4.99.

”A mind driven by indecision goes nowhere.”  (loc. 585)
    Overall, I felt like this version of The Attic Piranhas was a lot more polished and easier to follow than the 2012 edition.  There were still one or two “rough spots”.  The “Rolling Stone infringement” issue gets resolved too casually.  Mr. Sanderson’s new assistant turns out to be a relative of another character, which is either incredibly coincidental or a deliberate tie-in that flew over my head.  And I still feel Ramir’s entrance is a bit abrupt.  But I quibble.

    Simply put, if you've read John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and liked it, then you’ll love The Attic Piranhas.  If you haven’t read ACOD, then if things like anti-heroes, crazy antics, karmic comeuppances, and a tinge of the paranormal appeal to your reading tastes; you will enjoy this book.

    8 Stars.  Add 1 star if you think Ignatius Reilly was annoyingly charming.

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