Monday, September 22, 2014
Book Review: The Mimic's Own Voice
3 Stars - Recommended to folks who like faux-documentaries about fictional celebrities
Publisher: Main Street Rag
I landed myself a signed copy of The Mimic's Own Voice during the Cobalt Press Four Fathers Kickstarter campaign back in 2013, when I had partnered with Cobalt and organized a pretty cool four-way interview session with the contributors of the collection - Ben Tanzer, BL Pawelek, Dave Housely, and Tom Williams himself.
A meaty ninety-seven paged novella, The Mimic's Own Voice tells the story of Douglas Myles, a fictional professional comedic mimic a la faux documentary style. It's ultimately a story of a story, in the sense that someone pens this completely unbiased, journalistic biography of this wildly talented but completely hermetic guy once his post-mortem, unpublished, autobiographical manuscript is uncovered. (You got all that?)
How incredibly meta of you, Williams!
Typically, I hear of books written in this style and my eyes start to glaze over and I begin to feel a nagging, almost uncontrollable urge to run, run faaaaaaarrrr away, to avoid coming into contact with said book. And I have to admit that, though I didn't request that a copy of this book come into my possession, I alone chose to pull it out from under the TBR pile and crack it open. The first few pages were a bit difficult for me, because I really wasn't sure where Williams was going, blathering on and on about the old-time mimics, "those artists who made their fame and fortune with stunning mimicry of the period's political leaders and actors, athletes and musicians, scholars, and men of science." We're not actually introduced to Myles until the bottom of page four. And by that point, I'm looking at the total page count of the book and thinking to myself, well hell, I'm already about 5% into the darn thing, might as well finish it, yeah?
Much of the book is focused on how Myles applied his savant-like talent for mimicry. How he initially cultivated an audience with his vocal trickery by mimicking the old-time mimics (how very meta of YOU, Myles), then turning his ear and voice towards his contemporary peers and rivals, to his final big ta-dah... mimicking the voices of his very own audience members, to their amazement and enjoyment.
So, I mentioned that The Mimic's Own Voice is meaty, and meaty it is. You're gonna need a fork and knife and some major jaw muscles to chew through this sucker. It's a sticker and a stayer. Kind of like a well-seasoned but overcooked cut of meat. There's no swallowing this one down quickly. You're gonna be working at it for a little while. But when it's all gone down, and the plate is clean, you'll definitely feel full and satisfied.