I’m amazed at how much reading I’ve done this summer. In addition to books I’ve already mentioned here, I’ve also read quite a few others, more than I’ve read in a long time. Enough in fact, that I can do a weekly Fiction Friday post for a month, at least, if I can just keep up with blogging.
The last book I read before heading off to Chicago was Gojiro by Mark Jacobson. I will say up front this was both one of the strangest and one of the best reads I’ve had in a while. The story is told from the point of view of the radio-active behemoth himself, only instead of unintelligible roars, this Gojiro is a hip-talking, Jack Kerouac-like philosophizer addicted to fine grades of plutonium. His companion is Komodo, the Coma Boy, a young man who’s life was obliterated by the Heater, that nuclear weapon of Armageddon that ripped Gojiro from his natural place in the universe and transformed the Monitor Lizard into the King of Monsters.
The plot circles around Gojiro’s attempts at suicide and Komodo’s desire to save his one true friend. The two victims of nuclear disaster live together on Radioactive Island, along with the Atoms, children malformed and mutated by radioactive energy. Gojiro is tired of his life as a freak, and can’t abide the suffering that abounds in his quad-cameral brain. Somehow, he’s hooked into the universe, receiving messages and please for help from fans around the world, and he has no idea how to answer them. He’s also tired of being ripped from his position in the natural order of things. He was never meant to be a monster, let alone King of Monsters, and now, bereft of the comfort of his species, it takes everything he has just to hold it together.
Only he’s not holding it together. If not for a sacred promise he made to Komodo and his pesky invulnerability, the big green ‘zard would snuff himself in an instant. Komodo knows this, and is doing everything he can to keep his friend going. They strike upon a deal – in a year’s time, if they haven’t found a way to relieve Gojiro’s depression and pain, the great lizard will be allowed to kill himself, and Komodo will help ease his way.
That’s when the note shows up, a letter from the mysterious Sheila Brooks, daughter of Joseph Prometheus Brooks, the scientist who invented the Heater. A critically acclaimed film maker and all around nut-case, Ms. Brooks desperately needs Gojiro’s help. She wants to make a movie, entitled “Gojiro Vs. Joseph Prometheus Brooks in the Valley of Decision,” and suddenly Gojiro finds he must once and for all confront the man responsible for his tortured existence.
It’s a long strange acid trip of a book, and the first few chapters may seem rather slow until you get into the rhythm of the language. Gojiro has a slang all his own, and it takes a while to decipher what he means. On top of that, there’s a great deal of philosophy in the book on the nature of species and their interconnectedness and the place of the individual within the whole.
I bought this book waaaaaaaay back in the 1990s, probably 1993, when I was still in grad school. I’ve had it on my shelf ever since then, just gathering dust. I finally reached a point this summer where I determined that I either needed to read the book or get rid of it. I made a deal with myself to read the first two chapters, and then decide. Fortunately, the I found it slow at the start, I was hooked enough to keep going and eventually I reached a point where I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, on more than one night, I stayed up waaaaaaaaaaay to late because I just didn’t want to stop reading.
So Gojiro has earned a permanent spot on my shelf, I’m happy to say. I’ll get rid of some other namby pamby book if I need to clear things out. This one’s got too much style, too much plot, too much mind-boggling entertainment for me to give up.