MIKE NELSON'S DEATH RAT!

Michael J. Nelson, Author . HarperEntertainment $14.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-093472-9

If the title of Nelson's book makes it sound more like tabloid "fact" than fiction, it's no accident. This first novel by the author of two previous collections of humorous essays (Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese and Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters) is indebted to more than one genre. After being called an anachronism, Pontius Feeb, the aptly named 60-year-old author of archly titled but otherwise dull books about his native Minnesota, is abruptly fired from his day job at a trade journal. In desperation, he concocts a wild yarn about gold hunters in the northern reaches of the state being terrorized a century ago by a six-foot-long rat. Since book agents refuse to consider an aging author, Feeb enlists a strapping, none-too-bright sometime actor to impersonate him. The book sells almost at once, and for big money. Unfortunately, the actor assumes the tale is sensationalist nonfiction, and so do the publishers, sending poor Feeb into a panic. Nelson, the former writer and host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, ratchets up the comedy as Feeb is pursued by a host of irate Minnesotans and by King Leo, a popular funk music star who has plans of his own for Feeb's book. The narrative rattles along at a hectic pace, but the point is really Nelson's parody of the publishing and pop music industries, which is best taken in small doses. Even fans may decide they prefer Nelson straight up, unencumbered by the trappings of fiction. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/17/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-256192-3
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