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Posted November 8, 2006
Although he will probably forever be denied the Nobel Prize because of the radio broadcasts he made during the late war on behalf of the government in Rome, Bil Keane is certainly one writer who has nothing to prove. Having already taken his place among the company of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky, with the publication of 'Daddy's Cap Is On Backwards' Bil Keane now emerges as the master of them all. The storyline is deceptively simple: after Thel dies in a freak accident, Daddy abandons PJ, Jeffie, and Little Billy to take Dolly on a meandering automobile tour across America, culminating in the loss of Dolly, and the emergence -- too late -- of Daddy's ability to love. But God, as Keane has long demonstrated in his other works, is in the details, and in the intricate and masterfully coordinated layer upon layer of innuendo and hidden meanings. The title itself, on its face, refers only to Dolly's innocent, even endearing, observation that her father, unlike all the other men in her neighborhood, lacks a prepuce. But the true significance of Daddy's 'cap' is slowly revealed, chapter by chapter, and even at the end of the book one is left wondering whether other layers of meaning remain, beyond the reader's grasp. The turning point of the narrative is the episode where Jeffy sells his soul to Mephistopheles for power and knowledge, yet this can be fully understood only in contrast to the many events that precede and follow it -- such as the haunting scene where little Billy carries his father out of the burning city on his shoulders, or the passage where PJ, now the viceroy of Egypt, reveals himself to his brothers as the boy whom they sold into servitude years before. Nothing can compare, however, to the episode where Jeffy hurls his harpoon at the great white whale, it fails to meet its mark, and is reclaimed by the Rhine-maidens as it descends into the waters, while flames from the untended hilltop fire engulf the island paradise, tossing a firebrand onto the raft where little Billy and the runaway slave areWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.