Operation Patriotic Toilet Seat: By Titus North, 295 pgs. By Kurt

Based on its premise, this is an incredibly bizarre—no, scratch that—this is an absurd book. However, the story line is cohesive within those absurd parameters. I must admit that I was somewhat intrigued and dedicated to finishing this even though the whole idea was ridiculous. The book starts in the early 1980s and our hero, Joe Retard (I’m assuming he’s no relation to Jay Reatard) is trying to get out of trouble, so he joins the Navy and ends up in Japan. Through a series of adventures, he has become aware of a covert U.S. military action called “Operation Patriotic Toilet Seat.” The military thinks that Joe has stolen the “Big Book of Butts” (I’m not making this up) and starts chasing after him. Thus, the majority of the book becomes the adventures of Joe Retard trying to escape from the U.S. military in Japan while teaming up with a cast of strange characters including a friend who can puke almost on command, a North Korean opera singer, and a guy who talks like a pirate. Joe eventually finds himself in South Korea, North Korea, and then back to Japan in 2004 (with a big gap between the early ‘80s and the latter date). The ending starts to get really heavy handed with its description of U.S. torture and condemnation of their methods. That’s not to say I’m in favor of torture. It just seemed a very obvious plot device. The main character delivering the torture had been a stupid creep from the start. The editorializing of both parties as to its need or lack thereof just seemed like sermonizing. Despite that bit of “okay, I get it—torture is horrible” part at the end of the book, the text here is amusing, fun, and reads pretty interestingly. An enjoyable read to pass the time. No more, no less. Kurt Morris (Enlightened Pyramid Publications, 17 Ger Y Mynydd, Bangor, Wales LL57 1AG, United Kingdom)