Gas, Sewer and Electric – Public Works Trilogy – Matt Ruff

I found a book by Matt Ruff in a used book store, some time in 1995 or so.  It’s called Fool on the Hill.

It’s a fun and silly book.  Things that still stick with me are the Rubbermaid’s bright-blue eyes, the name Ragnarok, and the talky cats.  I think there was a beagle named Skippy as well.

Anyhow, these many years later, in 2009, I tripped over a Christopher Moore book (Fool) and the combination of writing style and title put me in the mood to track down other creations by Matt Ruff.

First, I read Bad Monkeys, which was one of his more recent books.

On an overall scale, I liked Gas, Sewer, and Electric (GSE) better than Bad Monkeys, but not as much as Fool on the Hill.  Hey, don’t complain about subjectivity, this is a blog and I am told I call the shots here.

GSE has many things going for it – there is a lot of energy and gleeful juggling of multiple plot lines. The characters are zany and do provide many laughs.  I liked the cameos by the Queen of England and Walter Cronkite.

But on the problematic side, I can’t remember the names of the main characters, or even precisely who they were supposed to be.  Hmm, there was the Amish pirate, and he had a daughter… And, the woman who was carrying around the lamp containing Ayn Rand.  But, they leant a little too much towards puppetdom rather than concrete people you might get your arms around and perhaps even visualize.

The ending is fun and reasonably rewarding.  No moments of epiphany, but it’s not health-food.

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