(The following review of Love and Other Pranks was originally published in Seattle Book Review. The review was written by J. Aislynn d’Merricksson.)
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Vigorito’s Love and Other Pranks is a dazzling dreamwalk illustrating some of the grandest spiritual and philosophical notions out there. It is an admonition to “wake up!” and recognize the illusions that cloud our minds daily, keeping us head-down and unable to enjoy the true fullness of life.
We follow two parallel timelines where similar events play out in the context of the culture and society of the era. In one, Merlin and Lila live in our modern world of fast cars, cell phones, and rampant consumerism. They meet at an illegal Halloween parade in San Francisco and immediately fall for one another. On the flip side are Crow and Flaming Jane, living during the great Age of Sail when pirates and privateers prowled the seas.
A dazzling dreamwalk illustrating some of the grandest spiritual and philosophical notions out there.For Lila and Merlin, they must contend with Ivan and his Holy Company of Beautiful People, which just, holy dang! It’s a terrifying glimpse into cult mentality and how the spiritual emptiness of today’s society can make things so attractive. For Crow and Jane, they must contend with Goldtooth, formerly known as Admiral Jasper, who lost his ship to the wife he had kidnapped. This defiance put Goldtooth on a path of vengeance that cost many lives.
These are the same souls, all. It is left to the reader to consider—are these past lives or are they played out concurrently? The Möbius threads through the entire story. More than an ouroboros, the Möbius strip illustrates not just cycles but that things that may seem separate and two-sided really only have one side. This leads me to believe the two timelines are happening concurrently with one another.
I really enjoyed this book! I found the writing to be quirky and witty, especially the play with sentence structure and word usage. If done right, you get a masterful story. If done poorly, you get an amateurish script that leaves you questioning if the author knows how to write at all. This story is done right! There is so much going on in this book that it would take another read-through to fully appreciate.
Love and Other Pranks is a philosophical and psychological commentary on society. The beliefs presented here—life is illusion, death is illusion, go with the flow, etc.—are ones that resonate deeply with me. It is an encouragement to think for yourself and to not let others define who you are, for that is a terrible trap. It’s a commentary that these deeper truths can be learned and valued but also abused, as they were in Ivan’s hands, and, while we should be open to these truths, we need to be hella careful to not get rooked and abused by a cult leader.A masterful story… There is so much going on in this book that it would take another read-through to fully appreciate.
Deeper spiritual meanings are woven in. Both stories are shot through with alchemical symbolism. Crow and Jane’s story goes a step further, with them seeking out the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. They learn, of course, that the puffer’s magic is just illusion and the truth of the Philosopher’s Stone is something far greater. Even mystery schools are touched on, with Crow being inducted into the Eleusinian cohort through a trip through the “underworld.” The Eleusinians as a whole seem to have the best grasp on the deeper truths and mysteries of life. There’s so much more to explore (bird symbolism for one. I’m looking at you Moby!), I could write an entire paper on this book!
Highly recommended if you want a book that makes you think and that presents deep and thoughtful questions couched in wry humor so as to not overwhelm. Perfect for the philosophers and spiritually-minded.