When you read copies of books that get sent to you, there’s all kinds of things that can draw you in. Sometimes it’s the book that inspired them to send it to you – for instance, I had one person who sent me their book because they knew I loved Terry Pratchett, while another did so because I loved Stephen King. Sometimes, it’s the way the author presents themselves. But most often, it’s the way they describe the book. And in the case of “Trump Chicken,” a short story by “bobbygw”, it was the comparison the author made to “A Modest Proposal.”
Now, I don’t know if you’ve read “A Modest Proposal”; suffice to say, it’s one of the greatest – and most vicious – pieces of satire ever written, a scathing piece of writing that indicts the English for their treatment of the Irish people, and does so by crafting one of the sickest jokes imaginable. (If you haven’t read it, do so here.)
Anyways, that’s the sort of comparison that’s going to win me over…but it’s also one that misled in me in some ways. What I expected from “Trump Chicken” was a piece of vicious satire, one that took on our current presumptive Republican nominee in a go-for-broke style. And while I definitely got that out of “Trump Chicken,” what I also got was a graphic story about a man who eats rich people. Quite literally. In somewhat grisly detail. Here’s the thing, though: if anything, that only made me enjoy this story more. (What that says about me is probably best left unsaid.)
“Trump Chicken” (which is basically a short story) takes the form of a rambling narrative by a prisoner being interviewed by a reporter about his crimes. Those crimes, as mentioned, are mainly of the cannibalistic variety – more specifically, cannibalism of the rich, which the narrator seems to have made his specialty over the years. It’s the narrator’s voice that really sells “Trump Chicken” – conversational, a little crass, a little broad, more than a bit arrogant…in other words, it’s a dead-on aping of Trump’s style at points, a point that bobbygw is smart enough to bring up along the way. It makes the book a blast to read, turning what could have been a pure horror tale into something darkly and horrifyingly comic as it unfolds.
The main focus, it turns out, is the narrator’s final victim: one Donald J. Trump. It was a bit of a “big get” for our narrator you see, but it turns out that Mr. Trump may be less tasty and wholesome than he hoped, as a fine diner. And as the story unfolds, the author gets to truly tear apart Trump’s image, giving us a disgusting interior to reflect the exterior.
If there’s a major fault to “Trump Chicken,” it’s the sense that the story doesn’t quite have a big point to be made, other than Trump’s awfulness. When you read “A Modest Proposal,” it’s hilarious and sick, but it’s also incredibly angry, and its points about English treatment of the Irish can’t be missed. “Trump Chicken,” by contrast, is a wonderfully sick joke – and one that I quite enjoyed – but you can’t help but wish there was a bit more meat there, if you’ll pardon the horrible pun. And yet, it’s still a darkly funny story, and one whose sick payoff I really loved, even with all of its nonsensical nature. I just kind of wish there was a tiny bit more to it.
That being said, between the writing, the great voice work, the spectacular and gory imagery, and the willingness to transgress in the name of taking down his target, I really liked the book, and I’d even recommend it quite a bit…as long as you’ve got the stomach for it.