Saturday, July 23, 2011

Many Kinds of Salads

Hey, are you sick of hearing about these crazy books I keep checking out of the library? What? You are? I have an idea: shut up! Here's a humorous observation: you know how books usually have blurbs or descriptions on the back of them? The last four paperback books I checked out have NOTHING on the back of them. NOTHING! No printed matter whatsoever. Take for example FLYING SAUCERS AND SPACE MEN: A SCIENTIFIC AND METAPHYSICAL DISSERTATION IN INTERPLANETARY TRAVELING by Dr. John H. Manas. Nothing on the back! This one is barely more than a pamphlet, and reminds me of something a character in Charles Portis's hilarious novel MASTERS OF ATLANTIS might read. The dedication page says, "This book is dedicated to DAEDALUS, the great Cretan artificer, the builder of the Labyrinth for king Minos." Wow! And if there are no blurbs on the back of the book, there are a few on the last two pages. "Unsolicited Comments from Readers," they are called. Examples: "I read the book carefully and liked it very much." - "I thoroughly admire you for your industry." - somewhat more of a rave: "You are producing the works!" - and from the Chicago Public Library, "The book was received and has been reviewed by our Book Selection Department." I must say that it seems as though Dr. Manas and I share some interests. He reports buying a "mimeographed booklet" by a Missouri farmer. I understand the impulse! Dr. Manas writes, "In the introduction it is claimed that in his story 'every bit is True.' However, when such statements are made that the three men from Venus with a huge dog named 'Bo,' weighing 385 pounds! on the 5th of March, 1955, at Midnight, landed in their 'Space Ship'... and for one hour had a friendly conversation with the farmer in English, comparing the furniture of the house with that of theirs in the 'Flying Saucer', and so on... It is also stated that the twelve laws of God on Venus were given to him by these 'Space Men'. These laws are similar to those of Moses!" As we can see, Dr. Manas and I share an affection for exclamation points as well. Dr. Manas is a little skeptical about the Missouri farmer's report of eating dinner on both Mars and Venus, as the trip between the two planets was only twenty minutes long. So there's a hole in this guy's story! Dr. Manas adds, "The meals consisted of meat, milk, eggs, fish, many kinds of salads and of many cooked vegetables, among which was corn!" Once again, the exclamation point is Dr. Manas's. I could tell you more, such as the fact that one of the crewmen on the Venusian spaceship is named "Bucky," but maybe you're right, maybe I need some fresh air.