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‘Stinker Lets Loose!’ (audio book review)

Stinker Lets Loose! is a specific work: a parody of the mass market novelizations, published in the 1970s, of popular movies. Those of a certain age are likely to remember racks of paperback books rotating unsteadily under the weight of Earthquake and The Prophecy, flicks transposed to print form. Stinker Lets Loose! presents itself as the book version of a little-seen (truth: entirely fictional) Hal Needham-style exploitation film about a libidinous good ol’ boy who is always up for a boozy blast.

Stinker Lets Loose! features the cool breeze titular hero, forever stumbling into new and exciting adventures. We also encounter, of course, a goofy sidekick named Boner, a possibly Tourette’s-afflicted feral child named Buck, the menacing Big Man, President Jimmy Carter (Stinker Lets Loose! made me miss Jimmy Earl’s brother, Billy), fearless and sexy Gwyneth, and, most alarmingly, Stinker’s pet ape, Rascal. Unlike Clyde, the sweet-tempered simian from Every Which Way But Loose, Rascal is a high-strung chimp that recklessly maims suckers who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Andy Daly, Jon Hamm, Andy Richter, Rhea Seehorn, Paul F. Tompkins provide voices for the colorful characters. There are plenty of oversized belt-buckles, Wranglers, Schlitz, and twangy interstitial music to go around.

Stinker Lets Loose! works best when it concentrates on the details of the era, one that is remembered with obvious affection by all involved. A ‘preface’ describing other failed novelizations by ‘James Taylor Johnston’ (nom de plume avec bière for the talented Mike Sacks) including Roller Skating Rabbi, Return To Crumb Mountain, and prequel Stinker Goes In! is funny and evocative of the period.

A slight problem of this well-thought-out effort is how it occasionally succeeds too completely – transcending self-consciously bad writing and achieving something close to authentically bad writing.

That is, when listening to Stinker Lets Loose!, in the down time between gags, one can forget that one is hearing a smart parody. The writing is so craggy and unconcerned with polish that it goes beyond the shtick and arrives in authentic pulp territory.

Suffice to say that’s a huge success.


Stinker Lets Loose! is now available from Audible.


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