Remember, never judge a book strictly by its cover. And if it is actually a book, never judge it by its cover at all! EAST OF LAUGHTER by Lafferty is one of his last books but carries the full arsenal of his flair, imagination and experimentation. Instead of attempting a review, which would take weeks given that this is a Lafferty book, I will simply give links to a two part review from someone who put in the time to write a full one here and here.
I will say I won’t have the image of Solomon Izzersted out of my mind – ever. Remember Quatro from the movie Total Recall? Sort of the same thing but this one is the size of a baseball with tiny arms and legs that is basically an outie bellybutton of its host. And, if memory serves, was conceived by a Jewish angel. Once he is severed from its host by a were-panther, he spends the rest of the book scheming and hopping endlessly up and down and being maniacal. Nor will I forget the character name Hieronymus Talking-Crow. The book was a tour de force of Lafferty’s imagination. But not merely of bizarreness. If one has read Chesterton’s THE EVERLASTING MAN, one has a flavor of the themes Lafferty ranges over in LAUGHTER. As the review I posted above says in its opening paragraph:
R. A. Lafferty’s speculative fiction novel East of Laughter is a ‘Quest for Reality’ by a special group concerned about the un-detailed nature of the modern world, right down its empty-seeming atoms. It is a quest for a new narrative or new metaphor that can give real life and meaning back to the modern world, a world that has lost its mythology and is therefore barely rasping out its existence on a thin gruel of mere ‘facts’. The novel portrays this as an urgent quest because the world is in danger of total unreality—that is, in danger of ending, and, more importantly and most of all, of not beginning again.
Like everything I have read from Lafferty this is a complete joy ride. Good luck tracking down the book, Amazon has about 4 under $50, the rest are up to over $200.