Thunder's Mouth Press / Avalon Books
US Trade Paperback First Edition
Publication Date: 05-10-2005
240 Pages; $14.95
Date Reviewed: 04-19-05
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2005
Near the end of his ostensibly fictional biography of science fiction author Jeff Lint, Steve Aylett claims that, "On July 13, 1994, Lint had a near-death experience, followed immediately by death." A quick look at Aylett's own bibliography shows that his first novel was published in 1994. A coincidence? I don’t think so. Reading 'Lint', one cannot help but be compelled to think that Lint -- as described in the book -- is himself writing the book. Aylett's biography is every bit as brilliant, as hilarious, as pithy and as psychedelic as anything he describes as being written by Lint. Now, Aylett -- as he calls himself -- would probably have you believe it's because his subject is so inspiring. Readers who make the journey through Lint's bewitching life and double death will be inclined to think otherwise. After all, Aylett himself tells us that, "Jeff Lint is buried in a Taos graveyard, his headstone bearing the epitaph, 'Don't think of it as a problem, but as a challenge which has defeated you.'"
First appearing as a short story in 'The Third Alternative', Jeff Lint takes on three and more dimensions in Aylett's entertaining literary voyage. Starting with his birth on July 6, 1928 and ending with his second recorded death on -- see above -- Aylett follows the journey of this eternal outsider through three generations of writing and culture. He unleashes so many arrows in so many directions, the reader starts to feel a bit like a pincushion, but he at least has the good grace to hit the majority of his satiric targets. And beyond telling more jokes than any sane reader would care to count, Aylett does another very clever thing. The usual journey we encounter in a (supposedly) faux biography has the created character take the form of the ultimate insider. From birth to death, they happen to meet with the high, the mighty and the magnificent, all on a shambling life's journey. What Aylett does here is to invert that journey. Lint is not the ultimate unheralded insider but instead the ultimate unheralded outsider. He's ejected from every club that anyone would reasonably want to be aligned with. His obnoxious and oblivious behavior assures that every time his talent threatens to bring him to the notice of the public at large, he is instead given a kick to his keester and sent on his merry way.
That merry way is made much merrier by virtue of the talent that Aylett/Lint brings to the proceedings. Yes, Lint does hit all the grace notes. We see a page from his rejected script for an episode of 'Star Trek', and he authors an absolutely mad book on the Kennedy assassination. The book covers are a highlight for this reader, from 'The Jelly Result' to 'I Blame Ferns'. His screenplay for 'Patton' is a scream -- as described by Aylett. One can certainly imagine it was no picnic for those who had to actually read it. But Aylett makes the most of his form, and gives us just the hilarious highlights from the mad mind of Jeff Lint. And make no mistake about it, Lint was certifiable.
Lint's prose, as Aylett tells us, was even trippier than that of his more heralded contemporary, Philip K. Dick. The two lives share many similarities, and readers who enjoy the fiction of Philip K. Dick (and Jeff Lint, of course) will surely find a lot to like in this faux-fictional biography. For this reader, the prose is the real giveaway that Lint and Aylett are one in the same. Yes, we see the work of Lint excerpted regularly, and yes, you understand that one must not be on drugs to write such material. But then Aylett himself will succeed at writing sentences that will surely make the reader's head spin at a speed fast enough to generate artificial gravity. 'Lint' offers some of the most perfectly amazing sentences and paragraphs that are likely to go into your eyes, ever. Aylett/Lint is a clearly a phenomenal talent. While the writer must not do drugs when creating the prose, the reader need not do drugs when reading this prose. Pass the paragraph, man. I need another hit.
Though he covers the worlds of science fiction, Aylett also masters the horror genre when he describes Lint's contribution to daytime children's TV, 'Catty and the Major'. There's a single paragraph here that is extremely surreal, disturbing and will haunt the reader for years to come. If you’re going to read this before bedtime, be careful when you hit this section. It's perfect nightmare material, the quintessential bad acid trip.
No matter how you take it -- those who find it a bit strong to read may prefer to smoke the material and thus dilute the effect -- 'Lint' is clearly the work of a mind in the advanced stages of both creative genius and insanity. There are so many memorable and repeatable one-liners here that you'll want to take notes. Make sure you do, because this is an experience you deserve, and an experience you deserve to profit from. Or as Jeff Lint puts it, "When the abyss gazes into you, bill it."