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The Good Humor Man

by Kilian Melloy
Monday May 25, 2009
The Good Humor Man

Who but Andrew Fox, author of "Fat White Vampire Blues," could combine Elvis Presley, anti-junk food fascism, clones, a world-threatening virus, and weird sex involving liposuction into one book?

The Good Humor Man is a road trip through a future America, a land of starved-thin (and, though they don't know it yet, starving-to-death) people who have rejected fat and sugar with a vengeance, entrusting a cadre of "Good Humor Men" with firearms and flame-throwers and the authority to bust up birthday parties and holiday feasts, and to revoke citizens' health care cards.

Former plastic surgeon turned Good Humor Man Dr. Louis Shmalzberg gets fed up with the anti-junk food movement, looking back at his status as one of the movement's founders with regret. He's been around long enough see the world from a different perspective than he did in his firebrand days; he's now in his seventies, and even while the USA, a country more concerned with trimness and youthful beauty than ever, grows mysteriously more and more gaunt, Shmalzberg himself realizes that he's had a belly full of denying people even healthy forms of fat and sugar.

When Shmalzberg stumbles upon the realization that even older people, like his centenarian father, are suffering from an increased metabolic rate, his quest to recover a lot family artifact--a jar full of belly fat extracted from Elvis Presley--becomes entwined with an international scheme among vying, ruthless powers to obtain that very same cache of tissue. Some want to use the Elvis tissue as an object of worship; others simply want it as a trinket. What Shalzberg comes to realize is that the preserved remains may hold the key to saving the world from an apocalyptic wave of starvation.

Fox handily piles his plate with all sorts of American obsessions, from high-calorie snacks to our fear and loathing of adipose tissue, to our national fetish for bizarre religious beliefs and practices. There's even a little sexual fetishism going on: our hero courts a lovely young woman with his "cannula," the instrument of liposuction, even as he faces off with an old nemesis who leads a church dedicated to literal purgation (and, indeed, binging to go along with it).

"The Good Humor Man" is as dark and delectable as 70% cocoa-bean chocolate, and as richly enjoyable as a creamy mousse, layering dystopian visions (shades of "Logan's Run" abound) with snarkily knowing satire and a brisk, competent prose style. Fox provides a real treat: food for thought and a stylish road trip adventure, rolled together in a book that's both literate and lunatic fun.

Publisher: Tachyon Publications. Publication Date: April 15, 2009. Pages: 288. Price: $14.95. Format: Trade Paperback Original. ISBN-13: 978-1-892-391-858

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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