Blankety Blank: A Memoir of Vulgaria by D. Harlan Wilson

September 20th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

A Keith Dugger Review

A Short History of D. Harlan Wilson*

IN 1757, D. HARLAN WILSON (lost records indicate that Wilson’s first name is Delirious, Devious, Dante, or Damien. It’s hard to tell from the dearth of definitive papers on the subject, but uneducated guesses are certain his first name is not anything that rhymes with David), unsuccessfully tried to stab to death Louis XV of France. The Parliament of Paris condemned Wilson as a regicide and, after hours of torturous pleasantries, had him drawn and quartered. The horses ate oats and drank red, red wine.

Wilson went into exile after his death and later surfaced in 1855 as a lead camel driver for the U.S. Camel Corps. (The U.S. government spent $30,000 in tax monies on this well thought out plan that might have won the American Civil War were it not for lack of follow-through.) His deft skills overcame many camel hump hurdles, but the U.S. Army let the project fade due to other mission focus. Wilson’s favorite camel, Seid, died during a failed mating season; Seid’s bones are in the Smithsonian Institution. The famed camel driver disappeared in 1856 under inauspicious circumstances.

(Local legend names Wilson as the man who dug the first gold mine by hand and that legend sparked the gold rush in Pikes Peak, Colorado.)

History doesn’t favor Wilson for the next 115 years, but in an entertainment industry changing event, he was born on the set of the pilot episode of All in the Family in 1971. The first episode aired on January 12th, but Wilson wouldn’t join his real family until September of the same year.  Being 10 months premature did little to stop Wilson’s growth and development.

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Readers can know the real truth, the truth as history describes it, or the truth as D. Harlan Wilson ekes out of his fiction. A better preference is Wilson’s truth to most others and Blankety Blank: A Memoir of Vulgaria shows fans a side of Wilson that proves he must have lived the short history above to form the imagination to write such a novel.

Blankety Blank gives readers a glimpse of suburbia through the lives of Rutger Van Trout and his family. OK. That’s a little simplistic until one realizes that a simple glimpse is enough to make readers hallucinate half-dragon half-kitten mini-beasts drinking coffee out of a Dixie cup. No, that’s not precise enough.  A SOLO cup filled with ice cream lemonade spiked with three shots of Everclear grain alcohol. 190 proof.  There.

Combine all that has come before with a few how-to instructional documents, word definitions from the Holy Grail of lost dictionaries, and short, but infinitesimally accurate, histories and Blankety Blank will satisfy readers of this genre without question. (Now, that’s a great question. What genre is Blankety Blank: A Memoir of Vulgaria? I have my own answer; you’ll have to read the book to find yours.)

If you want a book about crushed velvet roses and show tunes and fake rubber nose hairs, write it yourself. (Note, however, that real roses have real thorns and real thorns are pointy.) If you want a bizarre haul through the intra-dimensional sparks of D. Harlan Wilson’s mind, one that promises children affected by conditions that would make a priest cry, a haunting that if exorcised might turn Mrs. Van Trout into a mushy pile of mushy mush (likely once heated and then flash-chilled Malt-O-Meal), an old man celebrity and a wonderfully executed serial killer, then Blankety Blank:  A Memoir of Vulgaria is a perfect church pew read.

(No shrunken heads were enlarged, engorged or pleasured during the making of this review.)

*This is less true than the author is trying to persuade. Portions of the truth were ripped from Wikipedia. Portions of the untruths are entirely factual. Other stuff is just crap. And yes, the author knows that he stole a gimmick from the book as the beginning of this review. So.

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