Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fiction: The Unhatched Egghead

(Ted Mark, Lancer Books, 1966)
Another winner from “Ted Mark", the man who brought you The Nude Who Never and A Hard Day’s Knight, not to mention I Was A Teeny-Bopper For The CIA. If it is of any relevance, The Unhatched Egghead is actually a lot better than Mark’s much more popular (and easier to find) The Pussycat Transplant – although the cover photograph is hardly half as attractive as the cover art of the latter publication.
The story is about Archimedes Jones, the son of loving and unbelievably rich parents, a young man in his late teens, a boy of genius intelligence, gifted in sciences and the arts, able to move smoothly between the world of hip young cats, big business industrialists, cerebral science and fine arts, but plagued by one problem: he’s a virgin. Revealing this to a lecherous scientist friend one evening, call girls get called to solve his problem, but before he can get both legs out of his trousers for some serious fun, a shot rings out and the story begins. His pal is dead, the call girls have disappeared and top secret papers revealing how gold can be gained from simple metals have vanished.
Archi decides to find out who killed his friend and save the gold standard (and thus the world, of course), and does so by following up the names he finds in the little black book of the dead man. Going from woman to woman, he experiences one “hilarious” adventure after the other, continually getting mere inches away from losing his cherry, but forever being stopped at the last second.
Is it funny? Well, more or less. The book probably won’t make you roll on the floor in laughter – or even laugh loudly, for that matter – but it is at least painless to read, goes at a quick pace and causes a slight chuckle on occasion. Like most of Mark’s books, The Unhatched Egghead is a dated attempt at a humorous updating of Voltaire’s Candide. Unlike most of his books, though, this Lancer edition has one fucking ugly cover photo – a cover that has little to do with the book’s contents. (As is, actually, normal for most of the cover illustrations to a Ted Mark book.)

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