Friday, February 21, 2014

3. Lizard Music by D. Manus Pinkwater

[Actually written on October 2, 2014, but publish date is set to when I read the book earlier in the year.]

Lizard Music is a favourite from my childhood.  I'd been keeping an eye out for it for a while.  All I remembered is the eery opening chapters, about a kid living in suburban New Jersey left alone at home who discovers a weird show of lizard musicians late at night on after hours television.  There is something haunting and evocative about it and probably plays into the culture-hunting that was so much a part of my own adolescence.  I was also just a fan of Daniel Pinkwater's books in general.  But Lizard Music always stood out for me as being slightly darker and more mysterious.

Now that I have read it again to the end, I realize that it is just as goofy and fun as his other works and wildly surreal. It turns into a fantastic adventure, almost pulp-like but with a wacky post-hippie '70s mentality.  The story is about Victor, a 10-year old kid left alone by his parents with his teenage sister.  He is very independent and treats her with a sympathetic disdain.  She is so caught up in her teenage world that she doesn't even realize he is out of the house on his own adventures.  His stumbling across the strange lizard variety show leads him to the city where he runs into various weirdos like The Chicken Man and Claudia.  It's really hard to do justice to the style of Pinkwater's writing and milieu by describing the story so I will leave it at that.  You should get it into the hands of any pre-adolescent kid who might identify as quirky.  Pinkwater makes it awesome to not be normal.

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