Indeed, once begun is half done, and in a good way. Short, funny, smart and wildly imaginative are my favorite adjectives as regards prose generally, and Ridge delivers. Which is to say that the Bibliofella often feels he is required to read some books, for his own good, but gets genuinely excited reading done for fun and joy, sneaking back to, just now, Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here and, yes, Hunters and Gamblers,
whose title riffs on the calculating, flawed, absurd anthopology of our
dying republic and whose spirit would make Lewis chuckle.
There's a blind artist painting about about faith, a mega-church with a GodDome and a skybox, a secret which needs burying, love lost and, throughout, the winning Zippy the Pinhead or Tom Tomorrow
send-up of brand names and the jargon of lowest common denominator
dialogue that seems to have drowned real discourse in the US of A. There
is a battle between North and South California, a taxidermy love story,
shakedown artist Girl Scouts. Throughout the kooky-wise sage tells us,
darkly, sarcastically, what we are experiencing, which is in-flight
turbulence on our way to the crash, as in the short-short “Turbulence”: “It was the best of times, it was the Patty Hearst
of times” and “like so many of my fellow countrymen I lost nearly
everything, yet still managed to gain weight, I was just another slob
struggling to make rent on a shotgun house in the part of town criminals
moved away from–in short, the period was exactly like most
historical periods, that is to say, it was not unlike flying into Denver International Airport in the rain.”
If you appreciate giggling smugly a subversive activity, and laughing out loud in anti-social giddy joyful gratitude, this is the book for you. And if you don't this is really the book for you. Ridge's less-is-more ethos makes it easy to participate, and still feel pain. And empathy, too, to join the suspension of disbelief, or of belief, to pick up the surreal and see that it is also urgent political commentary, critical thinking-out-loud, and to be surprised by that. Surprise, finally, arrives on every page of this perfect little book.