Frank Lesser's "Sad Monsters" Delightfully Monstrous -- And Vice Versa
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
· Frank Lesser
Book Review: Sad Monsters
by R.J. Carter
Published: September 26, 2011
Remember that moment in "Frankenstein" where the monster encounters the little girl who isn't afraid of him? Remember how your heart shivered, then melted, to realize that within the monster's enormous chest resided something of humanity, struggling to get out with a muffled moan and groan? If only those angry villagers would have just put down their torches for a moment to appreciate the beauty, the story could have had such an upbeat ending.
Frank Lesser, who writes for The Colbert Report comedy/commentary show, has embraced this perspective, and from that ensuing epiphany has crafted together some thought-provoking (and smile-inspiring) essays, letters, diary entries, and personal ads, all designed to give us an understanding of what it's like to walk a mile in a monster's size 13 boots in an era where the problems of existence are larger than just "Who can I terrorize today?"
Starting things off are a collection of diary entries from Godzilla as he waxes existential on his purpose in life, and whether he's really accomplishing anything by destroying Tokyo on a regular basis. A teenager and a vampire exchange a series of letters after the breakup of their romance with "His Fangs Just Aren't That Into You." And never has there been a more powerfully written reason for sexual absinence than "The Joy of Unicorns." "...one night of mind-blowing, soul-shattering ecstasy means you'll never in your life enjoy this magical creature's gentle nuzzling. (It feels like taking a bubble bath full of giggling puppies!)"
"There's a Sucker Born Every Minute" explores what happens when a vampire chooses to run for President -- which apparently isn't all that different from your standard campaign, except that the issue of the birth certificate is more easily overcome (seeing as how hypnotism and threats of death go a long way). On the other hand, readers will chill to "The Partisan Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," in which the urbane Jekyll finds a way to release himself from the "constraints of intellect" and finds himself voting Tory and subscribing to a partisan newspaper.
To get a taste of the contemporary political wit permeating the book, the best example probably comes from "Crypto-Racism," wherein a Bigfoot submits a solicitation letter to "Dear fellow patriot," seeking aid in battling the problem of illegally immigrants from Mexico -- the Chupacabras:
To these illegal chupacabras, our country is just one giant goat, waiting to be sucked dry. Worse, instead of shambling through the trees while avoiding detection, they scurry through the underbrush while avoiding detection, completely detroying our forests' sacrosanct cultural traditions.
It was bad enough in the nineteenth century during the Irish rainbow famine, when our ancestors had to deal with immigrant leprechauns. Do't fool yourself -- no matter what the legends say, those shamrock flaunters got that gold by stealing it. Besides, we Bigfoots would have plenty of gold, too, if the golems didn't control the banks.
Some Bigfoots, especially those who prefer to call themselves Sasquatch-Americans, say we're distracting ourselves with imaginary enemies. They say we should focus on real problems affecting us, such as deforestation, pollution, and split ends. But claiming our problems with chupacabras aren't real is a slippery slope to claiming we aren't real, either.
Whether you want a chuckle while reading in bed, or just wish to show solidarity with the creature living beneath it, Sad Monsters is an all-encompassing, diverse collection that lays bares the tortured soul (or lack thereof) of all non-humans. Highly recommended.