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Aztec - Gary Jennings Did you ever wish that Boogie Nights was a book set in the time of the fall of the Aztec empire? No? Well, don't tell Gary Jennings that because I'm pretty sure it would hurt his feelings. It's not really something I would have thought you'd need to be specific about, but kids are so "creative" these days. This story isn't about Marky Mark’s penis or Montezuma's penis, either, because you might find that too predictable. It's about the penis of this other dude who is able to "visit" with exotic tribes and still make it back in time for the major happenings of Spanish conquest. I find it apropos to quote the GR summary of the book to give you a basic outline of what you might expect to find "under the covers" of this novel. This was obviously written by someone who decided not to actually read the book, but wanted to guess what it was about (quotes added for emphasis):

Here is the "extraordinary" story of the last and "greatest" native civilization of North America, at the "height" of its "magnificent" (sic). It is a story told in the words of one of the most "robust" and memorable characters in modern fiction. His name is Mixtil--Dark Cloud. "Rising" above his lowly station, Mixtil distinguishes himself as a scribe and later a "warrior." He earns a fortune as a traveling merchant, "exploring" every part of what the Aztecs called The One World--the far lands of mountains, jungles, deserts, seacoasts.

(*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*) I like the extended euphemisms. I didn’t realize before that the Aztecs referred to the female anatomy as The One World. So much is lost in translation.

The best thing about this book was the woman who gave it to me. I was working in this law office with four lawyers (all male) and four assistants (all female). I had just moved into a new house, and a woman I knew decided to throw me this "house-warming shower," which was a pretty painful experience for me but well-meaning of her. The game she came up with (like ya do for a "shower") was that everyone had to give me a book I would hate. This stressed out all the attendees (those who were actually my friends) because many of them are friends with me only because of books, so they felt like they had to bring a book I would actually love. It turned into a situation where all these women (men aren't allowed to come to showers, don't you know?) were bringing me their favorite books in the entire world, leaving me obligated to read them.

So, I worked with this one woman, who in many ways was an average, comfortable mom type. In a lot of other ways, she reminded me of a character from the Addams Family, though. She had this white streak in her black hair, which was cut into a mullet. She also had this way of shuffling around the office that was pretty unique. You know how lego people walk by moving their whole bodies? It was kind of like that. Also, she had the Addams Family theme song as her ring tone. I never asked her about it, but I figured she made a lot of style choices based on that show. Also, she had a speech disorder where she replaced her the 'r' sound with the 'w' sound. When I first met her, I honestly thought she had an accent. At one point the other assistants and I were out to lunch, and I asked her, "So, where are you from?" She replied, "California." Anyway, she couldn’t attend the house-warming shower but gave me this book at work, saying, "This is my favorite book in the entire world, and I haven’t been able to find another copy, so I’m giving you my copy." No pressure, right?

It turns out that unfortunately this book is not out of print, though I did return her copy to her when I was finished reading it, just, you know, to make sure she didn’t miss it.

While I think Boogie Nights is a great movie, there are some other times and places to which I feel it might not translate well. So that we’re not relying on assumptions anymore, I’ll state explicitly the places that I can think of where it would, imao, be a drag: pioneer days, Middle Earth, the Vatican, jungles (too obvious), the Soviet Union, the suffrage movement or second-wave feminism, the Civil War, any journey by land (Oregon trail, Lewis & Clark, Marco Polo - come on, people, there are kids reading these books!), or a bio pic about a someone leading or ministering to the disenfranchised (Martin Luther King, Jr.; Gandhi; Mother Teresa – not appropriate). I’m leaving a lot of options open, still, if you’d like to re-make Boogie Nights. For example, space would totally work, as would reality TV and other entertainment genres (music, game shows, theater, etc.). Bill Clinton, likewise, has absolutely set us up for a political re-make. See? I’m not being stingy, just proactive.

On the other hand, if you’d like to hear a fictional Aztec talk for almost 800 pages about his penis, then this is the book for you.