The Dick Gibson Show by Stanley Elkin
(American Literature (Dalkey Archive))

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There is essentially no plot in “The Dick Gibson Show.” It is a percussive string of monologues. There are lulls. (I could have done without the wartime dodo story.) Don’t put this book down and walk outside. You are in the eye of Elkin’s storm of language, and the wind is about to whip around.
-NY Times

Synopsis

National Book Award finalist: Look who's on the "Dick Gibson Radio Show": Arnold the Memory Expert ("I've memorized the entire West Coast shoreline - except for cloud cover and fog banks"). Bernie Perk, the burning pharmacist. Henry Harper, the nine-year old orphan millionaire, terrified of being adopted. The woman whose life revolves around pierced lobes. An evil hypnotist. Swindlers. Con-men. And Dick Gibson himself. Anticipating talk radio and its crazed hosts, Stanley Elkin creates a brilliant comic world held together by American manias and maniacs in all their forms, and a character who perfectly understands what Americans want and gives it to them.
 

About Stanley Elkin

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Without a bestseller to his credit or a lot of critical attention, Stanley Elkin has steadily, quietly worked his way into the higher ranks of contemporary American novelists. He was born in New York, but grew up in Chicago and has spent most of his life since in the Midwest, receiving his Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois with a dissertation on William Faulkner and teaching since 1960 at Washington University in St. Louis. Reviewers found Elkin's first novel, Boswell: A Modern Comedy (1964), the story of an uninhibited modern-day counterpart of the eighteenth-century biographer, hilarious and promising, while the stories in Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers (1966) established Elkin as a writer capable of writing short stories of textbook-anthology quality. The ironically entitled A Bad Man (1967) is about a Jewish department store magnate who deliberately arranges to have himself convicted of several misdeeds so that he can experience the real world of a prison and carry on his own war with the warden in what takes on the dimensions of a burlesque existential allegory. The Dick Gibson Show (1971) uses the host of a radio talk show as a way of showing fancifully what it means to live "at sound barrier," and both Searchers and Seizures (1973) and The Living End (1979) are triptychs of related stories verging on surrealism. The Franchiser (1976), generally considered Elkin's best novel before George Mills, uses the story of a traveling salesman of franchises to show the flattening homogenization of American life. But as usual, what happens in this Elkin novel is less important than the way in which the story is told.
 
Published October 26, 2010 by Open Road Media. 335 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, War, History. Fiction
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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Sep 21 2017

There is essentially no plot in “The Dick Gibson Show.” It is a percussive string of monologues. There are lulls. (I could have done without the wartime dodo story.) Don’t put this book down and walk outside. You are in the eye of Elkin’s storm of language, and the wind is about to whip around.

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