Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal (2017, Crown)
In a week filled with what is arguably the most serious political activity available in the United States (a position contested only by events such as elections and war declarations) I felt the time was appropriate to step away from the politics and into humor. Thus, Rhett & Link.
For those unfamiliar with the pair, they are lifelong friends who have become internet stars due to their often immature, often playful Youtube show, Good Mythical Morning. It is a typical daily morning television show but lasting only fifteen minutes and with both of the perky hosts open to playful public discomfort.
Every fundamental of the show is expanded upon in the book. As hosts, they often discuss their family life; the book includes significant autobiographical elements. They explain how broadcasting and humor work; the book provides the mechanics behind what they do. They embrace oddity and experimentation with unusual presentations in both mediums. Neither has a hint of politics anywhere within; the book is about common experiences and thoughts, and avoids divisiveness by skirting the notion entirely. It does, on a somewhat regular basis, veer into the crude, which is displeasing but does appeal to the sense of humor of some.
It’s a fun book, and if you’re looking for a way to touch base with the demographic that forms their core audience – 7 years old through 29 years old, there are far worse ways to do so.
Because this is review is of a book tied to a show, I’ll provide a couple of links… first to the most political thing they’ve done, which became an early viral video, and secondly to a sample episode of the show.
Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale (1990, Bantam)
This is the first book in the Hap and Leonard series by Joe Lansdale, the basis for the successful Sundance channel television show. The book showcases many of Lansdale’s talents.
The dialogue is perfect and his word choice is deft. The author’s signature quirky situations are hinted at, although people familiar with his works like The Drive-In or Zeppelins West may wonder why Lansdale’s plotting seems comparatively sedate.
The answer is simple: Lansdale isn’t a one-trick pony. His books are overwhelmingly set in East Texas, but he is as liable to produce a coming-of-age story steeped in realism like The Bottoms as he is a bizarre piece like Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland.
In Savage Season he takes a contemporary crime thriller scenario and filters it through Texan society, resulting in a distinct work that will resonate with people who have lived outside of the densely crowded cities which are typically the domain of the subgenre.
Lansdale pays attention to the setting as much as he does the characters, and the relationships he portrays formed the base for a sequel novel, and then another. When a series develops due to reader interest rather than a pre-existing three book contract, it’s a sign that the author has done something right. In this case, it was producing a character and setting-focused crime novel with believable relationships. It’s Jim Thompson with a hopeful view of humanity, and worth reading.