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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Puppet Shows by Michael Frissore (Review)

Short Stories, Humor
Publication.Date:November 22, 2012
Pages:118 (eBook)
Published By:  AMuse Me Publishing
Website:Michael Frissore 

Puppet Shows on Goodreads
My review copy:
Provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

A kindly organ grinder and his performing monkey adopt a young boy after his father spontaneously combusts; a barber living inside a whiskey bottle confronts the neighborhood nuisance who wields a dead squirrel like a pair of nunchucks; and an unruly gang of sock puppets are born in a basement dojo. Welcome to Puppet Shows, thirteen outlandish stories from a writer Tucson Weekly called "a very funny weirdo."

"Heckle, you were a mistake," my father said to me. He was dressed as a Klingon and completely drunk but I was the mistake.
She was the sanity in my life, as she often reminded me. "Your parents," she once wrote in one of my birthday cards, "the coke whore and the drunken disappointment, may not care, but I love you, Grandson."
I turned around to see transparent ole Grandpa.

"Guess what? You see dead people. I'm haunting you from the grave, Junior!"

I screamed. I couldn't help it. I ran away as fast as I could, but Grandpa followed, signing Ghostbusters all the way.
Among my powers are super patience, X-ray belching, and the ability to scream like a girl. I can also make a really good quiche.

I'm not sure what I expected, but it surely wasn't what I got. And in this case, it's not a bad thing - it was a pleasant surprise! There is nothing logical about the stories Michael has given us, however it's a fun illogical where you just kind of roll with it. The stories don't make any sense, but at the same time that's what makes them fun and interesting. They're not your typical short stories, they are completely unique and completely Michael. Some of these stories include suicide with nail clippers, a man married to a talking monkey, an individual stealing the bodies of dead celebrities, a man who legitimately believes there is a monster in his son's room, and so much more.

The writing is very well done and it's easy to picture these quirky stories in your mind through Michael's descriptive writing. I typically have trouble getting into short stories, but I found myself immersed in each of these stories - not only because they were a delightful rad, but I had to find out what off the wall adventure was going to happen next.
Puppet Shows is the best book to read after you've had your heart ripped out by another book and cannot stand to feel for a while. It's fun, lighthearted, and goofy. If you're a fan of Monty Python humor, you will definitely enjoy this book. If you have never heard of Monty Phyton, I suggest renting of their movies, watching a few of their YouTube videos, and reading Puppet Shows - a compilation of short stories that should not be missed.

Welcome to Bookish, Michael! I'm so excited to have you here with us today! First off, I love that in your dedication you thanked everybody from Sesame Street to Avenue Q. I love Avenue Q so that garnered a bit of a chuckle from me. But enough about me, this interview is about you.

How would you describe Puppet Shows to those who haven't heard of it yet?

Thanks for having me, Andrea, and a big shout-out to the Q.

Puppet Shows is a collection of shorts for people who love to laugh but aren’t into all that pesky reading like some squares are. It’s also comedy for nearly all ages. Say you're a teen or a college pot head who thinks books are stupid. These stories are a lot like The Regular Show or Adventure Time. I consider Puppet Shows in some ways to be cartoon prose. But maybe you're a bit older, say 25 to 65. Puppet Shows is influenced heavily by Monty Python and The Young Ones. Whether you read the stories out loud in an English accent is entirely up to you. Or perhaps you're up there at 70 to 100 years old and have fantastic reading glasses. Puppet Shows is kind of like watching a Marx Brothers or W.C. Fields film, or even Chaplin and Keaton because there’s no sound, not even happy ragtime music. So it's fun for everyone, though I wouldn't read it to my elementary or junior high school child. There's some naughty language that got past the editors. Plus there’s all that full frontal nudity.

That weirdly makes no sense and yet it makes perfect sense. This really is a book that you can read at any age/reading enjoyment and love each of these stories. Your description even makes more sense considering I've read these stories and know exactly what you mean! Were any of these stories inspired by real life events?

The story "The Lookist" is based a little on my own social awkwardness. There are a couple of segments from "The Seven Stages of Sorrow" that came from real life. And the third and final segment of "Game Shows," in which the narrator and his wife are sexually abused by folks representing a fictitious television program similar to The Biggest Loser, is, up until that molestation part happens, essentially non-fiction.

Well that's a relief! Which story was the most fun to write? 

“The Adventures of Root Beer Float Man” was probably the most fun to write. He’s the closest thing I’ve had to a recurring character and I just had a lot of fun with that.

And now I want a root beer float . . .

Where, or from whom, did you get your sense of humor from?

The way my parents met, my father was selling whoopee cushions and plastic vomit door-to-door and got to my mother’s house. She asked him if he sold stink bombs and when he said he did not, she squirted him with the flower on her blouse. They immediately took each other by the hands and spun themselves around the front lawn until they both passed out. They had me the next day. I don’t know how it happened, but they named me Groucho Von Daffy Duck and taught me the ventriloquist act that would make me famous throughout Ecuador in the 80s and 90s.

That's quite the backstory you have there. Tell me, are you terribly close friends with Edward Bloom? (See Big Fish for those who don't catch the reference. Also, watch that movie!) Since we're on the topic of entertaining stories, if you could live in any TV or book universe, which one would it be?

Back when I was a TV junkie I really enjoyed the programs Ed and The Gilmore Girls, so much so that I wanted to live in the kind of quirky small town that Stuckeyville, Ohio and Stars Hollow, Connecticut were. They were nice, quaint little towns that looked fun, and, you know, maybe I could ask Carol Vessey or Lorelai Gilmore out on a date and have a cup of cocoa or something, maybe go bowling at Stuckeybowl or stay at the Independence Inn. You know, good, clean fun. So, yeah, those two shows. Or The Bible. I'd get a kick out of Biblical times, I think.

Sounds like you have it all planned out. Though the imagine of you in Biblical times is quite interesting. Something tells me they wouldn't take to you as well as we do in modern times. What is a question you've always wanted to be asked in an interview, but never have?

Maybe whether I’ve ever written a serious short story, which I did once almost twenty years ago when I was in college. It was a love story called “A Love Story.” And it was completely boring, no irony or sarcasm or talking monkeys or sock puppets. (Boo!) It was just a tale of unrequited love. It was like The Sorrows of Young Werther. People would have killed themselves after reading it. I nearly did while writing it. It didn’t take me long to hate the story and I had it buried among my other writing for a long time. I came upon it one day and I did what any humor writer would have done – I took out the boring beginning, which was about three-quarters of the story, then rewrote the end into the most disgusting, lewd and insensitive piece of dialogue I could come up with. I renamed it “Love and Shit” and it was on the Internets for a while. It’s not anymore, but it’s one of my flash fiction pieces that I always wanted to put into a filthy chapbook called “Message in a Bottle: The Fatty Arbuckle Story.”

I think it'd be so fun to read "A Love Story" and then "Love and Shit" immediately afterward. Seeing as how you mentioned writing a filthy chapbook, what can readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?

There have been a small handful of novels written about the world of professional wrestling, but I think the one I'm working on now will surpass them all. It better; I’ve been working on it off and on for nearly five years now. But I think wrestling fans will enjoy it, and non-fans will be able to get into it as well. Some might call it “midget erotica,” which offends me and I’m nine feet tall. Anyway, I’ve tasked myself with having this thing done by midsummer. So, everyone reading this please contact me sometime in June and say, “Done yet, stupid?”

So noted. *makes note in calendar* 

If I was magically transported back in time to the Dark Ages, I'd . . . thank the good Lord I took those jousting classes.

One time I spontaneously . . . ordered a ridiculously expensive meal at Chili's. I shouldn't have done that. The meals at half that price would have been every bit as satisfying.

I'm addicted to . . .  coffee. I drink 97 cups of coffee a day. I cried for weeks when Abigail Folger was murdered and I wasn't even born yet.

I'm scared of . . .  Bill Maher. I think he might be a demon who will live forever and haunt us all.

If I could tell the world just one thing, it'd be . . . Stop taking pictures of your food.

Thanks for stopping by, Michael. I thoroughly enjoyed your short stories and this interview. This, folks, is a small sample of Michael's writing that you can expect in Puppet Shows. Fun, sarcastic, amusing, and just plain funny. Be sure you get yourself a copy of Puppet Shows so you can get in on the fun!
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