Night of the Avenging Blowfish Night of the Avenging Blowfish by John Welter
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Year: 1994
Pages: 304

I’ve read this one before, and yet a couple of weeks ago I got an inexplicable urge to read it again.

I’m not aware of Welter writing anything after the mid-1990s and I wonder what ever happened to him, though I can understand how his style of Marx Bros. ripostes and Monty Python silliness would wane in popularity in the cultural context of the new century. Don’t get me wrong: Night of the Avenging Blowfish is funny, but funny from a braver age.

I’m not sure if I realized, when I last read the book, how much its humor relies on relatively simple puns and turns of phrase: the banter between Doyle Coldiron and the rest of his Secret Service comrades-in-arms is mostly wordplay. Granted, it’s funny wordplay, but it also lacks meat—it’s funny only briefly, and Welter has to keep the pace blistering in order not to lose the reader’s attention.

I also realized that when Welter (as Coldiron) goes into his opining, Seinfeld-esque “And what’s the deal with women, anyhow?” shtick, I want to put the book down and walk away. It reminds me too much of my writing as a 15-year-old, thinking I was brilliant and funny when I was really just churning out self-referential schlock.

Then, too, Night of the Avenging Blowfish is really a romantic comedy, chronicling the pathetic love life and eventual torrid romance of its Secret Service protagonist, so it veers wildly between chuckle-worthy jokes and really, really maudlin passages where Doyle just wants to be held, &c., &c., which is all good and fine if you’re reading a Nicolas Sparks book, but it’s a bit passive-aggressive here, where it seems strange and out of place, as though Welter suddenly forgot what book he was writing.

I thought I enjoyed it more the first time I read it, though now that I revisit my old post, I see that I had many of the same thoughts as a do now. Then, too, my reading this time around was interrupted by the death of my father, which sort of cast a pall over any humorous stories.

Long story short: if you’ve got a taste for an easy book with rapidfire humor, heavy on puns and verbal jokes, you might just enjoy Night of the Avenging Blowfish; otherwise, you’re not really missing all that much.

§2074 · June 16, 2008 · Tags: , , , , , ·

2 Comments to “Night of the Avenging Blowfish”

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