Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ludwig von Wolfgang Vulture by Dolph Sharp

Ludwig von Wolfgang Vulture is "one in a million. Better yet, make that ten million, and maybe even that isn't enough." From the opening pages, which set the scene of the perfect, even edenic circumstances in which he lives ("The sky was black. The air was thick, clammy and unbreathable. The landscape of Council Plain was bleak, and the atmosphere in general was positively funereal."), we are immediately aware of Ludwig's dissatisfaction with his life, and his quest for more.


For you see, what makes Ludwig von Wolfgang Vulture one in ten million is that he was born with an overwhelming desire to read.


He learns early on that his love of reading is an anomaly in his world. His mother, Whistler's Mother Vulture, is concerned that Ludwig is going to waste away to nothing. "Stop talking nonsense and eat your carrion like a good vulture," she says. His father, Josephus Shakespeare Vulture first tries to school him in the ways of the world. "Do you realize the oversupply of human Ph. D's...Believe me, Lud, we are put into this life to eat carrion," but ends with an exasperated, "What are you, some kind of weirdo?"


It's hard to be special, but Ludwig persists, teaching himself to read, bit by bit. But it's when he's mastered the art of reading--and after the Vulture Star Chamber has censured, and then banished him--that his quest really begins...


If you--like me--read Jonathan Livingston Seagull and were moved to tears by its post-hippie-Me Generation-pseudo-mysticism, or, conversely, if you had to run to the bathroom to vomit from the overdose of treacly sweetness it gave you, you'll love Ludwig von Wolfgang Vulture. This is parody at its finest--loving, devoted, and utterly unforgiving.


What I'm reading now: How Fiction Works by James Wood

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