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RALPH HOOVER
Jabberwocky


click to enlarge

Pan, London, 1977
price: 60p; 160 pages


The blurb on the back:

What the press said about Terry Gilliam's film of Jabberwocky:
Eurgggggghhhyowww! -
The Times of India
Oh! Arhh! OhnoOhnoOhno .. (thud) -
Daily Telegraph
Ayeeeeeiiiiioooaaaargh! -
The Economist
Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit! -
The Sun
Now read for yourself the amazing story of the Jabberwocky - the monster so terrifying that people caught the plague to avoid it.
Set in the filthiest period of history, as the Middle Ages were collapsing around the well-dandruffed head of King Bruno the Questionable, it is the story of the King's attempts to save a cast of thousands (filthy peasants, scrubber maids, dim princesses and overweight knights) from the threat of the Jabberwocky.
He is helped by Dennis Cooper (a peasant's peasant) who, enflamed by undying love for 19-stone Griselda Fishfinger, gives up a quiet country life for the fleshpots of the city where after many expensive adventures, he wins the hand of a Princess and the Middle Ages are saved.


opening lines:
Dawn's first light spilled, with nauseating glee, across the grey crenellations of the eastern rampart.


Many of the writers featured on this site don't turn up too much on the 'Net (which is why they're here, of course), but there are exceptions and this is one of them. Ralph Hoover was a pseudonym used by American writer Paul Spike and, because of the Monty Python association, someone took the trouble to track him down and ask about this book. There's a link to the interview at the bottom of this page and you should have a look at it, because it tells you all the stuff that I'm not going to repeat here.

So, briefly, Jabberwocky was Terry Gilliam's first film as director beyond the confines of Python, following on from the Holy Grail movie and drawing on the same interest in medieval England. It was inspired by Lewis Carroll's poem of the same name and the Tenniel drawings that accompanied the original, and it wasn't really very good at all.

The book is slightly better, a bit darker and with more of the absurd power structures of the world of Gormenghast, but it's still not the kind of thing many people are going to want to worry about too deeply. For completists, as they say.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
3/5


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