ll the Cedar family knows is that they have, at the urging of their church, adapted a young boy from a third world country, one that they wish to share the blessings of American culture and consumption with. This family is pretty screwed up, with the son a moraless turd and the daughter sniffing solder fumes, mom burning every battery in the house in her vibrator and dad just oblivious to it all. They’ve even renamed him “Pygmy” without the slightest thought or hesitation.
All Agent Number 67 knows is that he’s succeeded in being imbedded (along with several fellow agents) into oblivious American families. He’s been stripped from his natural family at an early age (and told they died in an American Nuclear attack the evidence of which he’s never seen), trained for years and turned into the perfect weaponized human. And with his fellow agents, he will bring about Operation Havoc, whatever that might be.
This weird story comes to us from Chuck Palahniuk of Fight Club fame. It’s a neat little scramble of the things America does to other nations (through its open wars and cultural exportation) and the things other nations do in crazed response (terrorism and worse). Written from Agent 67’s POV, it is a funny outside-looking-in critique of our world, of how lazy and ill-trained our youth is to the ineffectiveness and disinterest of government. And through it all, ‘Pygmy’ tries to make sense of this society he’s being sent to destroy via his pigeon-English dispatches (amazing that agents who can spell any word in a spelling-bee can’t construct a simple English sentence). But it was cringingly funny and after the initial stumbling of getting used to the main character’s cadence, it reads fine (I had to laugh when my mom’s friend picked up the book, glanced at a random page and frowned – yes, this book is about you, I suppose). So, yes, quite an enjoyable read, all the way down to the ticking-bomb end.
I’ve never read Fight Club (just seen the movie) but perhaps I’ll have to read it now. I sure enjoyed Pygmy. Ever since I read A People’s History of the United States, I’ve been looking for something like this. Fun and poignant, a great read.
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