With 48,386 reviews, including this one, most of what could have already been said about WATER FOR ELEPHANTS has probably already been said. But that’s not going to stop me from trying, because I have confidence and determination and I often find myself in lineups where I’m the one who appears out of line. And when weirdness and eccentricities are encouraged, it tends to work better than Miracle-Gro and direct sunlight and watering.
Jacob Jankowski proves more than a little odd beneath his shirt collar. He has flashbacks to his circus days where he spent all of his time shoveling shit and smashing watermelons and filing toenails (Rosie’s) and hopping on trains and off trains and carrying knives between his teeth and chasing after married women and chasing after elephants and shoving his hand in a tiger’s cage and waiting for the flag to drop and speaking Polish (most of which I didn’t understand) and training elephants and speaking more Polish. But I could relate rather easily because I spend much of my time staring at white space and filling it with Times New Roman font and pretending that people actually think I’m witty and charming and wonderful when my reviews and novels are placed in avid reader’s hands. Because if Jacob hadn’t skipped out on one life to chase after another and I couldn’t pretend I was someone else for hours at a time, the real world might close in faster than a mushroom cooked in a skillet.
But I wasn’t blissfully ignorant after this tale, though. Finding out many of the antidotes contained in this story were at least partially, or in some cases whole-heartedly, based on actual events with the names changed to protect the guilty proved a rather outstanding addition. Since, on occasion, I do like the prospect of getting smarter, especially when I can have fun while doing it. And this was a rather enjoyable tale with Uncle Al and Rosie and August and Marlena and Kinko and plenty of other secondary characters with full-fledged personalities who proved to be more than just a series of caricatures thrown in for good measure to make the main character look pretty and exciting and interesting.
Set during a rather depressing time in our nation’s history, this story wasn’t the least bit depressing, although men were tossed from the train faster than shot glasses tossed back at a bar by some guy with antelopes for arms. While that might turn folks off, I was rather pleased with the thought of bubble gum and candy corn and candied apples. If I want to feel dejected and disheartened, I can find plenty of reasons to sit in a corner with my head pushing against my ankles, thank you very much. I don’t need it from a vessel that I like to use as an escape hatch from the real world where fairies and wands and cooch tents and sexy sheer night gowns and six-dollar smiles and two-dollar whores can be had whenever the mood strikes.
If I didn’t end with more than a few words on Barbara, though, my world wouldn’t be complete. She commanded center stage at the cooch tent with her foot long breasts and feminine wiles and brown nipples the size of paper plates and painted expressions, as she danced and swung her hips like a supermodel down a runway. Her happy sacks increased in width at the end and her smudged lipstick and smokin’ tobacco and sexy sheer nightgown where I could literally see and hear her bare breasts slapping together. All of which resulted in a totally titillating experience from which I shall never be the same.
As for this novel, it proved to be a rather entertaining escape from reality.