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« Book Review - Second Life: The Official Guide | Main| Book Review - How Do You Work This Life Thing? by Lizzie Post »

Book Review - The Big Bamboo by Tim Dorsey

Category Book Reviews
Somehow I let a couple Tim Dorsey novels slip by.  To catch up, I grabbed the library's copy of The Big Bamboo and hung on for the ride...  Great fun!

It's nearly impossible to do justice to a plot summary of a Dorsey novel.  Think of it as the literary equivalent of "physical comedy." Serge and Coleman are off on another adventure, complete with more twists and turns than you can imagine.  Serge wants to visit all the locations where films have been shot in Florida, and he's got an encyclopedic knowledge of every scene.  He's also trying to write a screenplay, which is being acted out as the story unfolds.  You're never quite sure what's the real story and what's in the script.  While trying to do all this at his normal manic pace, his grandfather dies and leaves him a letter that opens up a whole new path that Serge just has to investigate.  Turns out that path happens to be in another film mecca, Los Angeles.  All the various crazy plotlines and subthreads converge at the end to a twist that wasn't what I was expecting, but strangely enough works quite well as an ending to a Dorsey novel.

Don't go into this expecting a subtle plot and normal story pacing.  It's a non-stop ride, complete with Hollywood parties, a few killings, Japanese and Alabama hit squads paired off against each other (yes, Alabama...), and some of the most tongue-in-cheek dialogue and writing I've had the pleasure of reading in a long while.  This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I sure liked it...


Gravatar Image1 - Oh, and just to correct my misinformation above - I was confusing the football experience with another AU author, Ace Atkins. Sorry 'bout that.

Gravatar Image2 - Plot summary and Dorsey is a very, very difficult thing to pull off. It's almost like you are privy to an inside joke and you don't want to let everyone else in on it. How's this? "Just read it and try to keep up!"

Gravatar Image3 - No, you don't want to guess. Anything that features a large-screen TV, a football helmet, and no clothes is a good bet to be "just wrong".

Gravatar Image4 - @Jerry: See my opening paragraph:


My neighbor told me that Dorsey wrote for your college newspaper, and even back then, he could tell that Dorsey was destined for greater things. I would say that he found it.

Gravatar Image5 - OK... that would explain one of the more, shall we say, "colorful" scenes in the book. :)

Gravatar Image6 - That's cool Gregg; hope your neighbor represents AU well. And Tom, I don't dare guess at the 'colorful' scene. I haven't actually read any of Tim's stuff - just not my normal fiction genre.

Gravatar Image7 - If you don't know the Alabama connection, Tim Dorsey is a graduate of (and former football player for) Auburn University which is located in east-central Alabama. It also happens to be my alma mater. War Eagle!!

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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