Reviewed by Jessie de Geus
Up until four weeks ago, I had never heard of Dan Geddes, or his online journal The Satirist. Amazon.com’s claim that millions of readers have been enjoying his online activity since 1999 raised my interest (it also made me wonder under which stone I had been living for the last 15 years). Geddes has a background in history, philosophy and literature, and, as I discovered soon, a very sharp pen.
The book contains more than 58 articles in different styles, ranging from news, biographies of lost geniuses, imaginary movie reviews to short fiction. In many ways Geddes’s satire is aimed at the usual suspects: (American) politics, capitalism, consumer behavior, religion, post-modern philosophy, literary criticism and the arrogance of academics. But Geddes is no stranger to self-criticism either, something he shows in ‘The Pathetic Lives of Satirists and Critics’, and in the sections of short fiction that revolve around disillusioned young men who can’t seem to find their place in society.
I enjoyed some parts more than others, the news articles, the lost geniuses (although eight was a bit much) and the Disney movie reviews really stood out for me. Titles like ‘IRS: Frozen Bodies Are Subject to Income Tax’, ‘Amsterdam High School Relocates to Save Historical Coffee Shop’ and ‘Supporters Praise Romney for “Not Being Obama”’ give you a pretty good idea of what you will find in this witty little volume. Geddes’s satire is very clever and made me laugh out loud many times. The image of Morgan Freeman (as Noah) standing on the deck of his ark when the storm is over, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now The Rain is Gone” playing in the background still makes me smile when I think about it.
Although not a book that I would read from cover to cover in one sitting, The Satirist is a great book to pick up for an hour every other day. It’s also a great to read aloud to your friends, lover or housemates.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Joss
Dan Geddes’s compilation of features, news stories, book reviews, poems and more reveals much about contemporary American society. This satirical anthology offers a tongue-in-cheek, critical take on the country’s cultural, political and economic standpoint written by Geddes over a period of fourteen years.
The stories are punchy, witty and ironic and will be appreciated by critics, academics and intellectuals alike. These fictional accounts, that mainly set out to mock America’s capitalist society, are short enough to be digested over the course of a coffee break or a tram ride.
Besides American critique, satirical features such as ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Cult Leaders,’ and quizzes like ‘Are You a Conspiracy Theorist? Take the Test,’ are engaging and convincing with a sarcastic tone. Furthermore, expect to meet imaginary historical characters such as Hans Donkerzijde, a creative genius who once resided in Amsterdam, and Karl Kinski, dubbed ‘the anti-artist’ whose works bear thought-provoking titles such as Picasso Blockhead, Hair Piece, and Straight Red Line on Canvas.
One of the most entertaining satirical essays of the book is sure to be ‘A Modest Proposal to Convert Shopping Malls into Prisons.’ This essay provides a convincing argument for the strategic, cost-effective process of converting malls into much-needed prison space – an excellent solution to a very pressing problem indeed.
“Shopping malls tend to be huge, windowless, concrete structures […] The inmates could be housed in the stores themselves. A former shoe store, for example, can house up to fifty inmates comfortably. All stores are already equipped with a metal gate for their front doors. The gate can be pulled down and locked to keep the prisoners inside. And with some “poetic justice,” shoplifters can be confined in the very stores in which they once practiced their craft.”
On the whole, Geddes’s prose is witty, persuasive and rocks the proverbial boat. His book helps us shed light on issues that have become such a normal part of capitalist society that we often fail to see the obscurity or the solutions therein. Geddes’s book leaves the reader chuckling to him or herself and questioning, ‘just what if things do go that far?’
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