Saturday Book Review – Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?

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I feel like the only person ever to read and review this book for its own sake, the movie aside. If I’m not, please direct me to the others who don’t witter on about the movie. Someone said that this is a sequel to the movie. It isn’t. It isn’t a sequel to the first book or the movie. It’s a response to the movie. Think of it as this particular gesture.

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First off, let me say that this is a very good book. It’s hilarious, well-written, and knows when to be subtle. As to its connections to the movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, do not look here if you hold the movie in any way untouchable. It’s as though Gary K Wolf saw the movie, smiled, and then turned around and took the piss as much as he liked in this book. I don’t know if he hated it, but I can tell that the movie was not what he wanted to write, so he simply didn’t.

Many elements of the movie enter in at the beginning, such as Roger’s good relationship with his wife, he apparently isn’t a murderer, and Dolores is with Eddie. But the strong allusions to the film are quickly swept away, replaced or assimilated into the richer world and voice of the original. Dolores leaves Eddie with a note in the liquor bottle–where he’s sure to find it. The first impetus of the plot centres on Jessica’s possible infidelity. Roger’s speech impediment with the letter p is not only picked on more than once, it’s in the title, and even an important plot element at one point.

This appealed to my love of satire and helped ease the annoyance I always feel towards adaptation blindness. But the book is also amazing taken completely on its own.

As mentioned, Roger Rabbit comes to Eddie with another case involving Jessica and their relationship. The Telltale is printing gossip that Jessica Rabbit is romantically involved with Clark Gable. Then Eddie is hired by David Selznick to catch the thief between three suspects: Kirk Enigman, Baby Herman, and Roger Rabbit, all up for the part of Rhett Butler. Eddie also stumbles upon information leading him to believe his other brother Freddy is still alive.

The detective noir aspects are played to eleven, and the dialogue is witty and often hilarious. There are also a number of historical figures, and they can be a lot of fun. For example, Clark Gable and Roger Rabbit have an axiom fight. It’s brilliant. Thus.

Roger pulled himself up where his nose reached Gable’s boutonniere. “For as little as you know about the fair sex, you know even less about adages. What about ‘Absence reopens the springs of love?”

“Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Love does not rust,” Roger  said belligerently. “So there.”

“Old love, cold love.” Gable lit a smoke with a lighter fashioned from a gold molar yanked from the Colossus of Rhodes.

“True love never ages,” shot back Roger.

“New love drives out old.”

Roger folded his arms across his chest. “Love conquers all.”

“Never rely on love or the weather.”

Also, best romantic interest EVER. Even though she comes in pretty late in the book. Apparently Jessica has a sister. Who is six inches tall and awesome.

All of the characters are great really. I still prefer the original Roger Rabbit from Who Censored…, and this one has developed since then. He’s not exactly less naive, but he is less obnoxiously hopeful. His belief in things seems more like faith than desperate optimism. The movie gave Eddie one brother named Teddy, this book gives him another brother named Freddy and a sister named Heddy. Neither of them is a throw-away joke. In fact, although not every named character is important to the plot, they aren’t Kleenex “use once then toss ’em” characters. The world has a delightful inhabited feel, and it’s usually consistent.

It’s also a good mystery, paced pretty well. Jessica’s supposed affair is not as short a case as it might initially seem, and Selznick’s thief search has far-reaching consequences. People/toons die. Eddie gets beat to hell more than once. The ending might drag a little for some people, but I felt as if it was worth the time taken to tie up all the loose ends. I haven’t read the next book yet, so the tease at a next book may be only that. That is, there is a book after this one, but it mayn’t have the plot suggested in the teaser after the ending.

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