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Happy Mutant Baby PillsReview - Happy Mutant Baby Pills
A Novel
by Jerry Stahl
William Morrow, 2013
Review by Christian Perring
Apr 22nd 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 17)

Jerry Stahl is best known as author of the memoir Permanent MidnightHappy Mutant Baby Pills is his fourth novel; previous ones include Bad Sex on Speed and Perv -- A Love Story. Much of his writing features main characters who do a lot of drugs.  He is relentlessly irreverent and very often disgusting, and so this is certainly not for readers with sensitive dispositions who believe in decency.  But this new novel featuring a narrator addicted to heroin who earned a living writing promotional copy for pharmaceutical companies is incredibly funny.  The unabridged audiobook is performed with gusto by Peter Ganim, bringing out the ebullient dark humor to maximum effect.  Chapter 1 starts off with Lloyd talking about his job at the dating website Christian Swingles, run by two Jewish brothers.  We learn how he got the job after being released early from prison.  In the new job, he finds that his co-workers are also drug users, and they eventually come up with a scheme to get drugs illegally.  This leads to Lloyd ending up on a long Greyhound bus ride, where he meets a woman who he is instantly attracted to, as soon as he realizes she also has a writing talent.  But she is also determined to have a mutant baby to prove the awful effects of the modern world.  It is a sick plan, but Lloyd buys into it because his commitment to doing the right thing is occasional and fleeting.  This is not a book with a complex or even interesting plot; its strength lies in Larry's stream of consciousness, his digressions, memories, one-offs, and casual observations.  Larry keeps his funniest observations for his comments on how to write the ad copy for pharmaceutical products.  He grabs the reader's attention at first when he boasts of inventing the phrase "anal leakage" and explains why "leakage" is a much better word than "discharge."  The book carries on at this lofty level, with many references to enemas.  The scorn Lloyd has for the modern world is life-enhancing, and even though he has no morals, the book itself is perfectly compatible with a righteous view of the world that calls for corporations to avoid deception and ruining people's lives.  For anyone who harbors suspicions about Big Pharma, Happy Mutant Baby Pills will deepen and enrich them.   

 

© 2014 Christian Perring

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


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