Friday, 7 October 2011

ME CHEETA, the autobiography (as told to James Lever)

James Lever admits that in the middle of the writing of a previous novel that was too beautiful to let go off as though the adhesions would tear too much of his soul away and leave him raw and unable to efface the world; he read Infinite Jest and remained impaled on his couch abandoned to the despair of perfection. But then an editor gave him a deadline and an idea - write the biography of an animal star as though by that animal. Thereby Me Cheeta was born. At first Lever was kept from the limelight, you know what stars are, till it finally leaked out that it was an ‘as told to’ James Lever.

It’s a classic and I’m going to go out on a limb here (don’t bounce up and down) and say that it moves into the region of greatness. No, no, I mean it,Cheeta’s a wonderful person and a beautiful human ape. There’s the standard spoof of the genre which is itself classical Yiddish self-deprecation allied with sprinkles of bombast and comfort pleat ego. Cheeta sees the goings on of the stars and is a favoured guest at their parties with many a salacious aside but there is a genuine pathos in his worship of alpha male Johnny Weismuller. He sees but he doesn’t get the meaning of what his heroes do, a bit like us, and he misses the obnoxiousness of Niven and Flynn and their pranks. His original capture he understands as a rescue from the jungle which is a dangerous place for animals.

You liked Black Beauty you’ll love this. It will touch your heart.

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