Idiotville: The Fools’ Handbook for the 21st Century
Imagine every numbskull, dimwit, nincompoop, and shortsighted goofball you’ve ever met lived in the same town. A town where the buck is passed whenever possible, where committee groupthink has replaced actual thinking, where the easy way is the only way anyone ever considers. From time machines to drug-laced chocolates, erotic shoeshines to election shenanigans, life is never dull there. Welcome to Idiotville.
Idiotville is a series of interconnected short stories that build toward a collective vision: a town full of Gilligans, Barney Fifes, and Michael Scotts. Characters recur throughout, and inane molehills quickly become ludicrous mountains as the absurdities pile up with every passing page. And while a few of the stories are comedic non-starters, most will have you shaking your head in bemusement, if not chuckling to yourself quietly.
It starts off strong with its opening story, and the chapter featuring the Church of Bob is a real highlight, but Chapter 11’s The Wildlife is the true comedic highwater mark. The town decides to divvy up its remaining forested area for development, and soon rumors of monsters in the woods run rampant. It’s a wonderfully bizarre story with a great payoff.
The main drawback of Idiotville is that a town full of idiots needs a straight man to play off of, and the only ostensible straight man is shut down in the first few pages. (The mayor is a less than suitable stand-in, seeing how much mayhem ensues from his incompetent leadership.) This leaves the reader as the book’s straight man, which can get a bit exhausting at times.
Amidst the idiocy, Kral delivers some delightful turns of phrase. (Describing the F-word as “the most magnificent of all swearwords, the mother of all curses” was a particular favorite of mine.)
Idiotville is a little something for the idiot in all of us.
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