Most of us have met that one, particular person: the corrupt, compulsive liar who has no sense of responsibility, no sense of commitment, and no sense of civilized behavior to inform you that he or she is actually in a relationship with someone else. We find out this important piece of information only when that someone else attacks you in the midst of shock, horror, and betrayal. Somehow, despite all this repulsiveness, we find ourselves involved with that frog longer than we ought to in the first place, making all sorts of ridiculous excuses along the way, as if under a spell. It is a self-destructive process in both parties; no rational conversation, psychological counseling, or even a kiss from the witch’s prescription can turn that slimy creature into a prince, much less a king. If you find yourself stuck with a tortured frog that has a charming façade, time to grab your keys and leave – there is no hope for a fairytale ending, hunny (optimists are welcome to disagree).
No other story portrays this creature more vividly than Adam Davies in his book debut, The Frog King. Since page one of this guilty pleasure, the reader would swim through the intricately eloquent and delectably sarcastic prose of his protagonist, Harry Driscoll, an Ivy League-educated-turned-peasant working as a lowly editorial assistant at a publishing house in New York. Born with the gift of lexicography, Harry baffles his audience with words that only a dictionary can console you with, but compensated by his entertaining and unique style in narration.
Highly original and inventive, The Frog King is a non-cliché story about a cliché with two legs. In his quest to escape mediocrity, Hairball, as his martyr of a girlfriend Evie fondly calls him, lives a mediocre life. Acting like an immature college student trapped in a late-twenties-body, he spikes his coffee, goes to work late, loses the only manuscript he has to work on, and gives Evie new words for her birthdays – his idea of a gift because he couldn’t afford to treat her out. He loves Evie, but can’t even get himself to say the word love. He adores her, but can’t help ogling at other women, even starting an affair with an editor from a different publishing house.
It is a coming-of-age book, a Catcher in the Rye set in modern-day New York where you get dragged along a downward spiral, sinking in with Harry until all you could wish for is that he’d hear you tell him to get the hell up and make things up with Evie and live a better life. His version of Phoebe, an almost-divine intervention, is a clever homeless girl named Birdie.
The two big questions: after losing Evie, can Harry ever get the woman of his dreams back? Will he be able to utter that seemingly cliché word: love?
Best read during: the weekend, when you have nothing to do.
Best read with: spiked coffee, a dictionary, an open mind, and your personal memories.
Expect: a wider vocabulary after reading. Yes, you can finally use callipygian in a sentence without sounding tacky.
Warning: Reader is subject to sleep and bladder problems. Impossible to put down.
Guarantee: No pang of regret – worth your time.
Trivia: A movie adaptation is set for release this 2011! Only time will tell on who will take the character of this careless, slimy, and irresistible frog. Pucker up, ladies.