It Came with the House: Conversation Pieces

Jeffrey Shaffer, Author, Paul Hoffman, Illustrator Catbird Press $13.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-945774-36-5
Part rigorous social satire, part the fantastical ravings of a giddy and often paranoid mind, Shaffer's second collection of stories is spun from the same winningly ironic mettle of his popular first book, I'm Right Here, Fish-Cake. In these 31 rapid-fire, very short tales, Shaffer draws from his experiences as host for weekly programs for Oregon public TV and radio in probing our increasingly complex world of technology, entertainment and domestic comfort. In one of the few stories that occupies more than two or three pages, a group of men are drilled in Laundromat boot camp on the evils of adding fabric softener at the wrong time; in another, insurance adjusters sniff out phony claims in the wake of destruction left by Godzilla. The giant, pulsating alien brain who narrates ""The Human Factor"" samples the voice of Bob Barker to greet earthlings, and the lead guitarist of the rock band Dysfunctional Utah goes into an ""altered state"" of catatonia when he hears Tom Brokaw. Occasionally, there's a cynical cast to these tales, and Shaffer's view of humanity seems darker overall here than in his first book. In ""Flagrant Foul,"" a man is arrested during an innocent pickup basketball game for imitating an NBA player's signature jump shot and therefore borrowing intellectual property ""without first obtaining proper licensing agreements."" ""What's happening to our values in this country?"" laments the accused amateur, and it seems Shaffer himself wonders the same thing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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