Reviews

Double Feature by Owen King

According to Wesley Latsch, famous internet blogger in Owen King’s Double Feature, there are 74 75 things that cause unnecessary fatigue. Number one is rushing, number 75 is hugging a mummy, and number 27 is the library. Well said Wesley Latsch, I theoretically agree – hugging a mummy is fatiguing, though I’ve not had the opportunity to do so. And so are libraries, especially if you’re a librarian.

You might expect me to assail you with sound logic of why librarianship is a profession; libraries aren’t tiring, etc., etc. I could do that, but trust me, there’s already plenty of it out there. I will admit to fantasizing about brandishing an axe (which you now know I can do) at the next person who utters, incredulously, ‘and you need a master’s degree for that?!?’.

Because yes, yes you do. I can assure you that the tiny sliver of the library world that I inhabit (cataloguing) attracts only the most pedantic, anal retentive minds. I’m just thankful I am the head of my department.

The reason I find libraries tiring is another matter entirely. It’s not the research or the patrons; it’s the constant exposure to books/films/music. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t have a new book to read, film to watch, or song to listen to. It is not a bad problem to have, but it is a problem (it keeps me up at night). Consequently, I am the possessor of a great amount of inane knowledge – some useful, some less so – and a huge fan of movies (they’re only second to books by a narrow margin). So when Sam Dolan tortures his sister’s boyfriend by forcing him to watch ‘the demented paralyzed man who badgers his saintly wife to fuck strangers until she is sacrificed to a gang of depraved sailors’, I knew instantly which film he’s referring to, though it’s not exactly an obscure reference. I was unduly proud. Sam further threatens Peter, telling him if he sleeps with his sister, he’ll force him to watch all of the films that ‘nasty little man’ made. That’s not particularly threatening until you watch Antichrist.

DoubleFeature

Double Feature by Owen King is, without a doubt, my favorite debut novel I’ve read in years. If you are a regular reader here at FSR (so christened just for this sentence) and you’ve never picked up a book I’ve recommended, this is the one to start with.

Sam Dolan was an aspiring filmmaker. That dream died when his first film, Who We Are, was corrupted by the now institutionalized assistant director Brooks. Sam tossed (and missed) the only known copy at the trashcan. The result: cult film status, satyr costumes, drinking games, depression.

Equally complicating matters is Sam’s difficult relationship with his father, legendary B-movie actor Booth Dolan. Booth is a loud, larger than life cult hero who disappoints Sam in two respects: marital infidelity and failure to follow through. Booth’s second marriage to a crazy conspiracy theorist produced his little sister Mina, a wise, profane teenager.

Rounding out the cast of characters is Wesley (of list making and blogging fame), Sam’s horny ex-girlfriend, a retired German Yankee married to Sam’s ex, an attractive ‘in the business’ crime show producer (who Sam tries to flee from by stepping on an ancient poet, nearly smothering him in overflowing toilet water), and an indie film legend named Rick Savini (insert whoever your go to indie actor for weirdness is for a mental image – I used a three actor combination).

The result is an epic novel about the importance of family (even those members you’d rather not admit to knowing) and of growing up, moving on, and starting over (a Double Feature, if you will). The novel is good, clean (in a literal, inventive use of soap kind of way), intellectual fun. It’s ingenious, darkly humorous and lends credence to the idea that literary talent is genetic.

Consider this: in a span of 400 hundred pages you’ll encounter a maintenance man masquerading as a sex crazed, Santa bearded satyr, a rather fabulous Red Sox joke, the cinematic remarkability of Dog Day Afternoon, John Cazale, and the most consistently amusing novel I’ve read in years. So read it. If not for the persuasive description above, then because I said so (and do remember, I am a professional with a master’s). You may not change the world upon completion of Double Feature*, but I guarantee you’ll be a happier, more entertained individual. A pleasant side effect: you’ll want to watch Al Pacino circa 1975.

In all sincerity, this is an absolutely wonderful novel. And I agree, coming in at number 64 on the list of items to induce unnecessary fatigue, Pynchon is tiring.

*I was provided a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

PepperSandwich

While trying to keep production costs low, Sam tortures the cast with discounted sandwiches. I’m recommending a veggie sandwich, which is always the cheapest (and the healthiest for you, you bacon loving folks) option.

1/2

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  • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com picturemereading

    I love the sound of the dark humor in this one!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory O’Connor

      It’s so, so good if you like literary fiction.

  • annabelsmith

    I was already interested in this but am now even more so.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory O’Connor

      It’s nearly perfect, I guarantee it’ll be in my top ten this year. Have you ever read Empire Falls / Richard Russo of The Art of Fielding / Chad Harbach? It’s reminds me of those two books (both of which I adore beyond reason).

      • annabelsmith

        Neither. But I am definitely keen to read The Art of Fielding.

  • http://angelasanxiouslife.blogspot.com Angie

    I am so excited to read this. I am a huge King fan… and then I gave Joe Hill a go and love his books too. So I will for sure give Owen a chance too!!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory O’Connor

      Double Feature is very different from JH or SK, still excellent though. I would definitely give it a read.

  • http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Glad it lived up to your King expectations!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory O’Connor

      You’re going to love it (at least I think so).

  • http://eveningreader.wordpress.com priscilla

    This is on my wishlist, and now I feel like I *have* to read it. Okay, in the three-indie-actors amalgam–was one Gary Oldman? And also, Pynchon is so, so tiring (not in a good way).

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Nope, my choices were Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, and Sam Rockwell – sort of an amalgamation of the three. The novel is a must own in hardcover.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Though Gary Oldman is a good choice…

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