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From Barnes & NobleReview of Big Trouble by Dave Barry
by Dave Barry
When this critic read Dave Barry's new novel, Big Trouble, the literary comparison that immediately came to this critic's mind was Ulysses by James Joyce.
As the reader is no doubt aware, last year the Modern Library declared Ulysses to be the greatest English novel of the 20th century. It is hard to argue with this choice: Ulysses is an extremely literary book, with "literary" defined as "hard to read." When this critic was a college student in 1967, this critic attempted to read Ulysses, and after 15 minutes of exhausting effort, this critic had no choice but to give up and play Frisbee for the next five semesters. This critic seriously doubts that anybody, including James Joyce, has ever actually gotten all the way through Ulysses.
Nevertheless it is a powerfully literary book, and at one time this critic believed that it would never be equaled in the 20th century. But this critic was forced to revise that opinion when he read Big Trouble.
The parallels between the two books are eerie:
- Ulysses recounts the events in the lives of Dublin residents during a single day, using a narrative structure that incorporates an astonishingly rich and complex array of themes and images, with numerous subtle allusions to Homer's The Odyssey.
- Big Trouble features a giant snake and a poison toad.
The list of striking similarities just goes on and on. This critic will not bore the reader with all of them, except to say that Big Trouble, like Ulysses, has both characters and a plot, the difference being that in Big Trouble, Barry boldly explores the theme of what goes through the mind of a man who is being pursued by hit men while he is handcuffed to a large entertainment unit and is also hallucinating that his dog is Elizabeth Dole.
This is a theme that James Joyce, for whatever reason, never even touched upon, as far as we know.
In conclusion, it is this critic's objective opinion that Big Trouble, which incidentally is available at bookstores everywhere, is the finest book ever written in any language by anybody. But don't take this critic's word for it: Buy several copies of Big Trouble and read them for yourself. Or, simply mail this critic some money.
Dave Barry is a syndicated humor columnist with the Miami Herald.