Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! THE GAP by Richard Lorber and Ernest Fladell (Signet, 1968)

What happens when a raggedy radical-type college student and his 42-year-old adman uncle get together and dabble in each other's spheres, shooting the breeze (amongst other things) with observations about their respective lifestyles and philosophical takes on everything from politics to culture? You get one of the most boring books to hit the paperback racks since THE PROPER CARE AND CLEANING OF BOVINE SHEATHS by Dave Lang, and I ain't kidding about it one whit!

Of course it doesn't help that both the radical if pampered upper-crust kiddo and his Dave Berg New York liberal uncle are about as exciting as dried dog turds turned to the shade of vanilla Tootsie Rolls but man, is this book (which in the right hands coulda been a total eye-opening excursion into that plague that pretty much tore all of Ameriga 'cept the Mercer County area apart) one of the worst examples of late-sixties self-consciousness and spiritual stroke-offism that only proves that, contrary to popular belief, those days were exceedingly dullsville.

First the kid. Richard Lorber's a Columbia undergrad who somehow manages to make his existence as a demi-rabble-rousing sideliner look rather timmy. Not that a good majority of college kids both then 'n now ain't exactly bubbling over with personality, but it seems as if Lorber and his cronies are even more of a caricature of pampered well-offs consumed with the trials and tribulations of the day than any viewing of THE GRADUATE could care to portray (and I thought that film was too unreal, at least on a suburban slob level!). Lorber and his friends just come off too self-conscious, caring and downright naive to seem real, and his unbelievably one-dimensional remarks and observations regarding the war, blacks and everything else that passes his altruistic eyeballs just seem too unreal and perhaps even the ol' playing the reader like a violin for my jaded fanabla tastes. If you wanna see the roots of the entire DOONESBURY line of precocious yet inchoate thought that just oozed from the pores of many a college numnut of the day, this will sate you for quite awhile.

Of course Uncle Ernie, that Establishment bastion of wishy washy values, ain't doin' the Older Generation that much of a favor either. Like I said the guy's definitely what I would call a "Dave Berg Liberal" that long-going MAD contributor he's definitely big on the hotcha progressive causes of the day and does have a sense of camaraderie (no matter how eentsy) with Richard and the rest of the well-off sons of the well off parents, but in no way could you call him a charged radical. You couldn't call him a right winger either...he's more or less straddling the line between moral guardian and touchy-feely philosopher with all of the muddled confusion and passive reflection that went with being one. In other words, he's roadkill.

And when the two of 'em get together and bounce their observations about each others' existences off each other woah, are we in for an evening of dull repartee that's supposed to open our minds and question our own tightly-held thoughts along with all of that Sunday School quap that seemed like a load of tripe back when us late-sixties gradeschoolers were being force-fed it constantly. But I guess back then these hot questions made for stimulating reading at least for the more adventurous around us, and Signet couldn't bank all of their stock on MAD reprints now, could they? But fortysome years later THE GAP doesn't come off like a period piece, but more or less like a book having a period if you can get my drift.

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