One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding
Four Square, London, 1961
(price: 3/6; 176 pages)
first published in Britain by Neville Spearman in 1961
The blurb on the back:
Jimmy is a college boy who thinks he knows all about sex - until he meets Kitten.
She is dazzled by the hundred dollar wad he is carrying in his pocket and is prepared to go to any lengths to adopt it for her very own.
This is the story of a riotous, crazy week-end in which two young people coming from different ends of the American social scale reach physical understanding without having a single thought or custom in common.
The story is told from their different points of view, and the result is a book so uproarious in its humour, so frank in its expression as to make it one of the most original novels ever published in any language. You will want to lend this book to your friends so that they will be able to share the joke of the Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding.
It starts well, with an Author's Note that:
The caricatures in this never were and aren't. If a reader happens to transmute them from typo-alphabetic symbols to figments of his imagination, they will continue to not exist, except as figments of his imagination.
But it's all downhill from there on in, I'm afraid.
In its day, I understand, this book was a major cult item, championed by the likes of Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. But times change, and frankly it's unreadable now. I know, 'cos I tried to read it. The chapters written by Jimmy are just about tolerable, even if they're not funny, but the alternating chapters by Kitten - written in the kind of 'black' voice you'd find in Huckleberry Finn - aren't.
On the other hand, the style of the cover's nice, ain't it?
ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 1/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 2/5