‘The Pequod’s Coffin’ by Joshua Flenniken
Ryan Summerlin November 15, 2012
Local author Joshua Flenniken takes on corporate ineptitude – and a host of other topics – in his first book, “The Pequod’s Coffin,” released in September by independent publisher, Black Rose Writing.
The book is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended, as the author’s long disclaimer warns. Witness a wife who proffers a threesome to Jehovah’s Witnesses speaking with her husband on the porch as a way to drive them off, and a protagonist who gets clients off the phone by telling them he has “bleeding [rectal] cancer” and has to go change his adult diapers. Perhaps needless to say at this point, much of the language and subject matter is decidedly offensive – in the name of humor – throughout.
Certainly there’s appeal in that among some audiences, as there is for off-topic rants by the quirky, bombastic protagonist, Ishmael, as he navigates the endlessly murky waters of his employer, a hospital software company, while seeking to change his email address to ward off religious fundamentalists bent on saving his doomed soul. Time and time again, the company is revealed as inefficient and inept, a major source of Ishmael’s wide-reaching disillusionment.
Many elements of the book appear autobiographical – the Summit County setting, the supporting character based on the author’s friend (who did the cover art and interior pages) and Ishmael’s former employer, a Vail Resorts reservations department, in a section replete with its own set of snarky and silly tales.
Flenniken describes his book as “a satirical look at corporate America, dealing with some serious issues in a lighthearted but hopefully comedic manner.” Still, he is the first to admit that the wit falls on “the baser end of the humor spectrum,” citing the protagonist’s pet Shar-Pei, “Scrotum,” as an example. And let’s not forget Ishmael’s boss, Maximus Johnson. Feel free to guess at Ishmael’s nickname for Max.
“The Pequod’s coffin” is a “Moby Dick” reference; Pequod is the name of the whaling ship in pursuit of the whale. The curious Ishmael, clearly educated despite his predilection for raunchy rumination, has never read “Moby Dick,” even though he is named after its main character. Thus one of the subplots is Ishmael’s battle with not having read the book.
It takes a thick-skinned individual, with a particular brand of humor, to enjoy “The Pequod’s Coffin.” If you self-identify as such, it’s available on Amazon.