Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Mimic's Own Voice by Tom Williams

Paperback, 97 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Main Street Rag

Welcome to the world of Douglas Myles, professional mimic, where comedians dominate the entertainment landscape, and Myles becomes the most famous of them all. His fans and rivals know whom he can mimic—every speaker in the world, it seems—but they still want to know the man behind the voices. Even when he stops performing and disappears from view, even after his death, their interest in him doesn’t fade. When an autobiographical but enigmatic manuscript is discovered, do lay comedy fans and Comedic Studies scholars have access and insight to the real Douglass Myles? Or has this tale of voices and silences, laughter and sadness, solitude and crowds, race and identity only just begun?
Click here to read a sample.
It would be ironic to say that Williams style of writing "mimics" or closely resembles a potpourri of extremely famous writers. The term "mimic" is defined as to copy or imitate so as to ridicule; mock and this novella does not ridicule or mock, but takes on the appearance of or resembles closely the qualities of great writing. At first, I started to compare him to author Daniel Handler, who is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket. They both have an interesting mix of narration and satire.
Next, I couldn't help but hear the voice of one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut. In Vonnegut's book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, he listed eight rules for writing a short story and in my opinion there is one rule that Williams follows to the letter. Rule #8: Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
There is so much to admire in Williams novella, such as his use of voice and detailed history of a richly imagined golden era of comics. His protagonist, Douglas Myles, is not only self centered, but sentimental and you find yourself begrudgingly rooting for him from start to finish. To say that I hope to read much more of Tom Williams in the years to come is an understatement.