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August 10, 2014 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Aardvarks After Dark [Review]

Aardvarks After Dark
by Michael Gould
0/5 stars

The world of self-published e-books is a frightening place. Even worse is the ‘humour’ category, where there are such titles as What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and Accidentally Flirting with the CEO. (Incidentally, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is by distinguished author Tucker Max, whose bio reveals: “He currently lives in Chicago, and when he isn’t drinking or fornicating, he writes for his website”.)

This is the special circle of internet hell where you’ll find a book called Aardvarks After Dark by Michael Gould. I use the word ‘book’ liberally. It’s a 140-page-long list of ‘imaginary book titles’, drawing on some kind of wordplay. Except wordplay is usually witty and clever and pun-tastic. Aardvarks After Dark is none of these things.

Self-publishing is cool when it lets young poets and writers get their work out there. There are tonnes of poets creating hand-bound editions of their poetry and selling them on Etsy. Tumblr-famous poets Shinji Moon and Clementine von Radics recently self-published limited-edition poetry collections in the US. These are two genuinely good young writers for whom self-publishing has been a wonderful thing.

Online publishing in a kind of e-book format is increasingly becoming the preferred form for small literary journals in New Zealand and elsewhere, and for long-form science journalism. Self-publishing online lets people do whatever the hell they want, which is great, but also quite terrible.

“This book is for lovers of wordplay, who enjoy odd juxtapositions and satire, who aren’t bothered by the politically incorrect and the risqué,” Gould writes in the foreword to Aardvarks After Dark. Straight away, I don’t want to read any further.

The juxtapositions are there, but his definition of satire is rather loose. And hardly any of his ‘wordplays’ are really “politically incorrect” as he would have it. Instead, they have the feel of someone desperately trying to be politically incorrect but failing, which is even sadder. (“Babes of Arabia”, “Gangster Gang Bangs”, “Rectal Sects”). I don’t know what’s going on here. It just keeps going and going.

This book is a perfect gift for your uncle who likes pervy jokes, Nigel Latta documentaries, and thinks Paul Henry “just says what everyone else is thinking.”

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