I believe that Penn Jillette's novel "Sock, is the weirdest, most original, ultra contemprary, whimsical, sexy and controversial book I have ever read. I finished reading it several days ago, and a very real and strange after taste still lingers in my brain from it.
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Penn Jillette is the larger, louder half of the performing team of Penn & Teller. Together they have published a number of books including "Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends," and "How to Play in Traffic." This is Penn's first novel.
"Sock" is a murder mystery set in present day New York City and the narrator is a sock monkey named Dickie. Dickie belongs to a New York City police diver that Dickie refers to as The Little Fool. The Little Fool discovers the dead body of an ex-girlfriend while diving in a polluted New York City river, and together with a gay hairdresser named Tommy, they set out to find the killer.
The plot evolves slowly over 47 reatively short chapters and is interspersed with Dickie's/Penn's philosophical takes on just about everything from atheism to cyber sex to the nuances of screen play writing. The story starts and stops and bobs and weaves its way along as we learn all there is to know about this unlikely threesome.
But perhaps the most fasinating aspect of "Sock," are the references to 1970s and 1980s pop culture. Paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter, Penn's ingenious use of these devices is - in some cases - utterly amazing, unbelievable and breathtaking. While reading "Sock," I browsed the internet looking for information about the book. I found one website that actually had a chapter by chapter breakdown of the references with information detailing their origins.
References are also made to many pop celebrities, both famous and not-so-famous, including singer/songwriter Beck, shock-jock Howard Stern (Penn once dated Stern's side-kick, Robin Quivers), and poet/songwriter Tuli Kupferberg. One must read the book to believe it.
I feel the need to advise potential readers that "Sock" contains several scenes of graphic sexuality, including homosexual sex. I will stop short of using the word gratuitous, but one could question how some of the scenes move the story line along to any great extent; I will leave that up to you to decide.
"Sock" is far from perfect, but its weird whimsy is hard to resist, and it's well worth the read. I believe that Penn Jillette's first work as a novelest will one day become a cult classic. You heard here first.