Monday, December 18, 2006

Joe Ollman: this will all end in tears

"Tony, it's taken me 37 years to get this fucked up. I'm betting it will take more than a week to make me okay."

Reviewed by: Brady Dale Russell

Brady was sent this book in the mail by its publisher, Insomniac Press, in Ontario, Canada. Brady has never met Joe. And, in terms of hunting trips and shooting either deer or lawyers or even good friends, it is unlikely that either Joe or Brady have met Dick Cheyney. With luck, they never will.

Insomnia Press published this book. You can find more of their books at The book is also available on Amazon. You can find Brady Russell's site link in our links section. Joe's personal site is located at

Lately I've been talking about things in terms of whether or not they are good for America or bad for America. Usually, I prefer identifying the things I see as "good for America." For example, if I see a movie in which an anti-hero type takes an amusingly sadistic pleasure out of beating the crap out of some government functionary, I say: "that's good for America." Or, if I eat a donut that somehow hits me just the right way, I say it was "good for America." Or if someone gets really, really drunk and makes an impressive ass out of himself by hitting on a woman who's totally out of his league only to take a sweeping bow that everyone can see after she (amazingly) grants him the digits, I say, with great reverence, that that it's "good for America."

The point being that I never really like to say anything is good or bad for America if it actually does have any clear or meaningful link to nation, nationhood or our political moment. In fact, you could even argue that I don't usually tend to say anything is good for America if it might be possible to make any argument under any circumstances that the thing actually did benefit America.

Because if you could it wouldn't be funny to say whatever-random-ass-thing was good for America.

It's only slightly more ironic, then, that I found myself trying to decide un-ironically whether or not Joe Ollman's collection of graphic short stories, this will all end in tears, was good for America, since Ollman is Canadian and probably finds America pretty annoying. I mean, we could get all technical about it and say that Canada is also part of America, depending on how you define the thing, but we all know that no one thinks about Canada when they think about America. When they think about America they think about Jazz. Okay, they think about NASCAR and guns, but the point is that whatever you think about when you think about America, it probably doesn't have anything to do with Canada because we are two pretty different states of mind.

In fact, no one thinks about Canada when they think about America because, let's face it, no one really thinks about Canada.

Unless you're talking about comedy. Then we're pretty much on the same
page. Canucks can be pretty funny.

Not that this will all end in tears is exactly funny. John Candy was funny. this will all end in tears is mostly depressing and disturbing. But it's depressing and disturbing with a comic sensibility, sort of like the movie Happiness, only the book strays a little too far in the grotesque and ugly to really maintain an ironic comedic tone - plus it doesn't have a dorky little kid who can't jerk off. If nothing else in this world is funny anymore one day, little kids who can't jerk off will still make me laugh.

What's not funny are chubby near-middle-aged women who have crushes on guys with bad skin only because maybe Mr. Bad-skin-spare-tire-belly
might sleep with her once he realizes that he's not exactly Tom Cruise. Well, I guess that is sort of funny, especially when Ollman shows his porcine main character all bug-eyed as she kills herself on an exercise bike in her basement so she can drop a few ounces that she never manages to drop. That's funny. Only you feel guilty laughing because this character is one sad girl who hasn't done anyone any harm. So you don't exactly laugh but you do sort of secretly giggle and it's not like anyone will blame you because they see you're reading a comic, and comics are supposed to be funny, right? They don't know you're laughing at a lonely girl.

What I'm saying is that it is nice to see that Canadians also share the darker side of American humor. The more sophisticated brand of our macabre tastes that we inherited from the Brits but improved with guns like we do everything. The sort of humor that makes you laugh when little kids go to talk to their dads about the fact that they can't jerk off because you know that the kid's dad is a pedophile and the kid doesn't. That's funny. Only that's Happiness I'm talking about again, because, like I said, no impotent pre-teens in this will all end in tears.

There are guns, though, and God bless America for that. This one character has the lamest little rifle, a .22, but somehow in the story he's managed to kill this deer with it. It's his first hunting trip ever and he kills this great big buck with one shot from a .22, hitting it somewhere in the back no less. Now, setting aside that a kill with this sort of shot is pretty much impossible with a .22, this is one of the darkest pieces of humor in the whole book. You have to love a story where a guy goes to move a deer that's been dead in his garage for almost a week and its front legs come off.

Now, I know a little something about dead deer in garages. I've lived in a house with a dead deer in a garage, after all. Through this whole story, the main character keeps having more and more trouble with the deer he never meant to kill in the first place, and, knowing a little about dead deer, I know that all the problems could have been prevented if he'd just done this, or he'd just done that.

Then I realized that the point of the story was two-fold: first, that no one in the story really knew what to do if any of them actually did manage to kill a deer and, second, that Ollman wanted to do a scene where this guy accidentally pulls a deer's front legs off.

And who can blame him*?

So there I am on page 66 and the main character of the book's third story (of six), "Oh, Deer," accidentally pulls off the legs of this deer and I think to myself, "Yeah, okay, this book definitely is good for America."

* Note: I didn't read the endnotes of this book before writing the review, but then I did afterwards and it turns out that Ollman pretty much did write this story for the purpose of showing this guy unintentionally ripping a deer's front legs off. Wow.

[Victor notes: okay, now I gotta read this book! However, I must note that one of my dear movies is Bambi. And I have to wonder about what Brady keeps in his garage...besides Joe Pesci...]

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