“Honk If you Love Aphrodite” by Daniel Evan Weiss (1999) – 155 pages
One of the book sites I have long trusted the most is The Complete Review posted by M A. Orthofer. If a novel or story collection gets an A or A- grade at the Complete Review, I’m quite likely to read it. The Complete Review is unique in that it tries to keep up with literature from all the countries of the world. Recently I discovered a page I hadn’t seen there before called the Most Underappreciated Books at the Complete Review. These are books that have not been sufficiently appreciated by other reviewers or critics. One entry on the list is a general entry for the works of Patrick White. Having read nearly all the works of Patrick White, I certainly agree that his work is underappreciated, even though he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Also on the list is “Loving Sabotage” by Amelie Nothomb, a wonderful Belgian author whom I first discovered at the Complete Review. Another on the underappreciated list is “Honk If You Love Aphrodite” by Daniel Evan Weiss, so I decided to give it a try.
This novel starts when Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, And procreation sends her son (Eros?) on an amorous mission to modern New York City. There are just too many problems involving passion on the Earth today for Aphrodite to handle them all by herself, and her perfect beauty of a son is just sitting around bored out of his mind. He is ready for a little excitement.
He lands at the Coney Island carnival in New York City where he meets up with three guys: Stanley short sleeves, Lennie, and Myron who is a fat hot dog-chomping beer-swilling bear of a man. Stanley short sleeves is constantly talking about his wife and obviously loves her, so why does he want to stay out all night and not go home? That is the problem that Aphrodite’s son is here to solve. In order to deal with Stanley’s problem up close, Aphrodite’s son, he of the perfect beautiful body, must take the form of the fat slovenly Myron.
All night long the threesome travel the streets of New York either by subway or walking, and they encounter just about everything and everyone you might encounter on the streets of New York late at night. They stay out until morning, because Stanley does not want to go home to his wife, while Aphrodite’s son gets mighty sick of being the ugly fat Myron.
As you can tell the humor in “Honk If You Love Aphrodite” is broad and low which is fine with me, the lower the better. This novel is written in free verse, not exactly poetry but not exactly prose either. Verse novels are one of my favorite genres, and this one is another winner. While reading this book, I kept thinking Daniel Evan Weiss must have written for Mad magazine at some point, but I could find no connection via Internet searches.
Easy is my rapport with Mother on every theme; but for this
I found no words. I longed for her to know my heart;
But I was more afraid of her all-powerful spurn.
“Honk If You Love Aphrodite” is not deep or life-changing literature, but I had a fine humorous time reading the book in a few hours. For what more can one ask?
I would also like to mention The Literary Saloon which is a related book site posted by M. A. Orthofer that will quickly keep you up to date with all the news and gossip in world literature.