15 July 2008

The Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father

The Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father
Roy Lewis (5/5 stars)
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Contemporaries Ed edition (August 30, 1994)

Ernest is young man growing up in a not-so-typical Pleistocene family. His father, Edward, has invented portable fire and is pushing, pushing, pushing for mankind to evolve at at faster rate. Uncle Vanya thinks they are flirting with disaster, what with all this eating of animal flesh and using fire, and what were they thinking coming down from the trees in the first place, but Father continues on his scientific (and otherwise) experiments. These experiments put Ernest and his brothers in all kinds of interesting predicaments (which, frankly, beats beating flints all day long) as they hurry to advance their horde out of the Pleistocene era into a new and glorious future.

This is not a slap-stick funny book, it is an intellectually funny book that also has hilarious moments. I had to go for the dictionary a few times, which was funny in and of itself--getting the dictionary to look up a big word that some caveman is using. It's also an allegory of sorts, a stop and think kind of book. Even while I was laughing my head off about Uncle Vanya warning Father about the dangers of progress and telling him to go back to the trees, I could. . . well, I could see both sides--hear myself in both sides actually. I've never read a book like it, quite frankly. I picked it up because Terry Pratchett mentioned it as his all time favorite book and I can see the attraction. It's one I will have to read again, digest, laugh and think over some more.

Lewis' writing is wonderful; droll, dry wit and amazingly detailed description sandwiched in with just darn good writing. His pictures of family life are so real that I dare say he's warped any historical notions I may have had of the Pleistocene era. Overall, this is just a masterful book, but I recognize that I may not be for everyone because it's a book whose humor is not just laid out for you--you have to think a little too.

Read for the letter "E" in my A-Z Titles Challenge.



Blogger Debi said...

Thanks for the great review, Medbie! I'd never heard of this book, but I am definitely going to get it for my husband for his birthday (which of course, means I'll be able to read it, too).

By the way, I found Sonny's House of Spies at the library yesterday. I'm only about 50 pages in, but I am totally in love with this book. Thank you!

8:51 AM  

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