Thursday, January 27, 2005

Crazed Sock Monkey on the Loose

I just read a book I would generally not read. And I loved it. This is a great exercise, to pick up something outside the (in my case, frighteningly wide) boundaries of what one would normally encounter. I usually steer clear of novels written by celebrities, biographies of queens, and science fiction fantasy. Now keep in mind, this doesn’t mean I’ll never read a book from these genres—I’ve enjoyed my share of Asimov and Bradbury, for instance—but it means that when contending with the overwhelming number of books on my to-read shelf and to-buy list, that these categories are generally my few guiltless exceptions.

But then you get the strenuous recommendation from someone whose opinion you trust and you know you have to make room in your crowded head. In this case, the culprit was Clair Lamb of Mystery Bookstore and Answer Girl fame, who told me that SOCK was her “favorite book of the past year.” Now that ain’t no “I think you might dig this” rec, that’s a more strenuous exhortation. So I bought it.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that SOCK was written by Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller fame. Had I known that at the store, I might not have bought the book. Now while I recognize that Penn is a brilliant magician, I’m not inclined to believe that a great magician makes for a great novelist, thought mine is a fatuous argument. I mean, every novelist’s gotta have a day job at some point and why would being a famous magician make him any less inclined to pen (ha ha) a brilliant novel than if he were, say, a journalist, doctor, or cop, professions which have churned out their fair share of great novels. I suppose I thought, “Well, he’s a famous guy and someone in publicity thought they could market the hell out of his name so they bought his crappy manuscript.” Simple, simple me. It took no more than a few pages for me to realize what a colossally judgmental ass I was (am?).

This book is the real deal. It’s a “mystery” (not really) about a somewhat incompetent cop who sets out to solve a murder with a gay hairdresser friend and his sock monkey.

Oh, and it’s told from the perspective of the sock monkey.

It’s a brilliant, inspired, wholly unique, bizarre, philosophical piece. It plays with language as if it’s clay—you can TASTE how much Jillette loves words—surprises you with character, and hammers at your (mis)perceptions with a series of well-placed postmodern salvos that undercut the narrative while oddly reinforcing it.

If you’re a language junkie or a book junkie or just a plain old junkie, you should cast aside your doubts (oh wait, that was just me?) and dig in. I can say without hesitation it is one of the most original books I’ve read all year.

I love that sock monkey. What a clever, devious little mofo.


Sarah said...

I really enjoyed SOCK as well -- found it exhausting at times, but I've been a big fan of Penn Jillette the writer (yup, the writer) for years. My first introduction to him was as a teen, when he wrote a monthly column for PC Computing magazine, which were witty, hilarious and very pointed. So I guess I wasn't as surprised as some that he could write a novel--and a damn good one, too.

Ellen Clair Lamb said...

I'm always so relieved when anyone likes something I recommend... although I generally agree with you, Greg, about celebrity novelists (THE HOTTEST STATE, anyone? I actually paid money for it.). The "mystery" part of it isn't especially compelling or fair, but the point of view is so brilliantly conceived and executed that it doesn't matter. One bad wammerjammer sock monkey, he is.


Aquaryan said...

His book is not inspiring you to have a special guest star in the next Tim Rackley novel does it? I can just visualize it. hehehe. I am reading Robert Crais'The Last Detective, right now. I had never read his books. I do notice that on page 108 of this particular novel, a certain name pops up -- "Hurwitz!" hmmmmmmm, I wonder.

Greg said...

This blog is great! If you get a chance you may want to visit this google help
site, it's

pretty awesome, too!

Greg said...

Nice Blog!!! It looks like you have spent a fair amount of time setting it up and keeping the content fresh. Congratulations. I'll be sure to come back later again.

I have a SEO tips site. It pretty much covers hiring marketing company
related stuff.

Thanks again and keep up the good work.


Azhar Hussein said...

Hi :)

You have a great blog! I'll make sure to visit regularly.

If you want your blog to get higher in search engines, why not try Link Metro, you can over 100 new links to your blog every single day, for FREE!

WDM Info Services said...

I am very impressed by your blog, It is full of great information. I found it by searching for " seo promotion " on Google.

I have started a blog directory and would like to personally invite you to post your blog. Its free and will help you in your search rankings.

if you have any questions email me at and I will get back to you within a 24 hrs.

Greg said...


you really have a very nice blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a site dealing with payment for search engine and directories
. You are heartly invited to take some really good tips from it.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Johnjon said...

I discuss this topic daily myself. I also have a website that talks about clickbank directory suggest url related things. Go check it out if you get a chance.

Just Looking said...

Hi there " " --- I was in the search engines researching SEO Software when I came upon your blog..... I don't know if you are out of place in the engines, or I am out of place and just don't realize it :-)

Pat Martin said...

Bravo for a well versed post. If you would like to market your blog visit my website for free training on topics such as engine marketing search services and engine marketing search services

sihrnguwhe0rh said...

Search engine optimization, submission and highly-targeted traffic can be found exclusively at

Marketing Gurus said...

Link Trading and 3 way link trading. Now it is hard enough to figure out who you traded with, did the site you trade with count for you or not, then you add in 3 way linking. I think this requires a partnership of sorts. Finding 1 other person to do this with you. Even with 2 people it can get confusing. If you find a great site to add your link to who gets the link posted, etc. seo