Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ex Libris: A. Lee Martinez's Gil's All Fright Diner

So a vampire and a werewolf walk into a diner and it sounds like a joke. But it's really A. Lee Martinez's funny debut novel, Gil's All Fright Diner.

Right from the starting line Martinez takes no prisoners as redneck buddies Earl and Duke (actually the Earl of Vampires and the Duke of Werewolves) find out there is an evil haunting Gil's All-Night Diner in the small town of Rockwood. Given what Earl and Duke are, evil here is obviously a relative term as they face off against zombies, cosmic monsters straight out of Lovecraft, and horny teenagers with idle hands out to end the world.

Funny books (whether SF like Douglas Adams or fantasy like Terry Pratchett) poke fun at human nature-- even of human monsters-- and Martinez is no exception. Everything is cut-and-dried for the laughs to start rolling early. Earl hates garlic, is adverse to being staked with wood, and avoids sunlight as much as possible. Duke, on the other hand, changes to a big furry beast, is deathly allergic to silver and loves moonlight walks.

From there, Martinez runs with the horror tropes we've already subsumed and plays them up for laughs. Combine this with a fast-paced story, folksy-easy writing, and endearing characters, and you'll find yourself a number of chapters in before you can say the first sentence out loud.

Basically, don't expect depth with this book. Just grab the popcorn bag, shut off your brain and watch the lights go down and the reel start running. But unlike other popcorn movies-- er, books, you'll definitely enjoy the show with this one. (Rating: Really 2 out of 4 paws but it's fun enough to merit 3 paws.)

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