Title: Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences
Author: John Moe
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
It was in one of my favorite online magazines, Fast CoCreate (a Fast Company publication) that I first heard about John Moe’s anthology of satiric correspondences which fictionally “exposed” the behind-the-scenes letters and diary entries of some of pop culture’s most famous characters and relationships, including the title characters’, Darth Vader and his son, Luke. I am a big fan of satire and pop culture, and as a writer was curious to see in which direction Moe, a regular contributor to McSweeney’s would take this. I imagined a mix of fan fiction and Dear Abby. I was excited for the book.
So I jumped on the opportunity to read it when Books for Bloggers made it available to me in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, though, I think this book was better off a collection of articles than an anthology of more than 50 imagined conversations and correspondences, most of which went on too long. My overall reaction to the book is that the ideas were funnier than the selections themselves; or that the selections would start off funny, but then went on too long.
For instance, I liked the idea of psychoanalyzing Bruce, the shark from Jaws as the author does in the second piece in Dear Luke, but tired of the concept after 3 or 4 journal entries (it continued for a total of eight). The list of “Jay Z’s 99 Problems” was funny, too, but again went on too long. (David Letterman stuck with a top 10 for a reason; Moe takes his list to 99. Is there a pop culture reference I’m missing? Probably.)
As I mentioned, there were spots in the book which I laughed out loud: Moe is a funny writer! Most of his ideas were really clever; it’s just that the execution could have benefited from a more serious editing job, especially for length. The best selections in the collection were the shorter ones, such as the “welp” listings of fictitious restaurants, including the Cheers bar, the Regal Beagle (which made me giggle just to see its inclusion), and Moe’s Tavern. Similarly, I laughed out loud at the concept alone of Gunther writing a letter to Rachel on the coffee shop chalkboard. But the letter itself (spoiler alert) is funny, too! Gunther explains to Rachel that she and her “friends” are all ghosts; dead after drowning in the fountain from the opening credits. He writes to her in chalk because, “as everyone knows, that’s the only thing that can get a ghost’s attention.” (I always though ghosts preferred writing in the fog of mirrors.)
If I were to highlight the selection that worked best in terms of length, ingenuity and wit it would be “Exchange Between Neal Hefti, Creator of the Batman TV Theme Song, and the Show’s Producer” in which there is a correspondence that eventually leads to the explanation of why the theme song to the television show had no lyrics except for “Na na na na na na na na na Batman!” During that one, I laughed out loud a bunch of times.
I’m bummed to give this book less than a stellar review because Moe deserves accolades for his creativity and success in execution in many of the selections. But I think the publisher might have been a little too over zealous in expecting readers to push through to the end of this collection.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.