Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Wigfield is in peril. The Bulkwaller Dam, which towers over the tiny town, is scheduled to be destroyed which would in turn wipe out Wigfield. Journalist Russell Hokes travels there to profile the brave and honest citizens who are struggling to save their community. Well, sort of. Actually, Wigfield is not so much a town as a series of ramshackle strip clubs and used-auto-parts stores, lacking any kind of civic infrastructure whatsoever. And its people are not so much "brave and honest" as "brutal," "homicidal," and "lacking any redeeming virtue whatsoever." Similarly, to call Hokes, who narrates his own struggles to gather accumulate 50,000 words, a "journalist" is at best an exaggeration and at worst an abomination against the institution of journalism itself.
The world of Wigfield, as concocted by the brilliant Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, and Amy Sedaris (creators of the Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy), is somewhat reminiscent of the slice-of-life small-town humor of Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman. But instead of putting on a musical, as the Guffman folks did, the people of Wigfield busy themselves trying to acquire government handouts and stabbing each other to death. When the government rebuffs their efforts, based on the fact that they're not technically a town, they come up with a plan to get paid anyway. Wigfield's residents (as played by Colbert, Dinello, and Sedaris) are portrayed in a series of compellingly grotesque portraits by renowned designer and photographer Todd Oldham. The humor of the book--much like the town's mentality--is dense, as nearly every sentence contains one or several grimly hilarious references. Fans of feel-good whimsy are advised to navigate toward lighter fare but social pariahs, disgraced journalists, brooding malcontented sociopaths, and anyone who enjoys dark, twisted, and profoundly funny writing will find a home in Wigfield. --John Moe --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The authors are well-known comedians. The photographer is a famous designer. The result is unlike anything the genre of humorous fiction has seen before. The book tells, sort of, the story of Wigfield, a small town that realizes it's in danger when the government wants to destroy a local dam in order to protect the local salmon population. Faced with imminent flood, the town solicits Russell Hokes, a self-centered hack journalist, who hopes to capture the undying spirit of the all-American small town. Wigfield, alas, is very far from living up to the bucolic image it intends to foster, and as the dam draws nearer to destruction, so does Wigfield's self-created myth. The plot unfolds as a series of interviews Hokes conducts with local residents, accompanied by droll, surreal photographs by Oldham. In the end, Hokes succeeds in his goal, which is, as he notes in his attached rsum, to "write a book, other than the ones that I have already written, so that I may use my words like a sword of swift justice in service of the truth, but in an easy-to-read, highly marketable way." He does so, however, not by creating a Capraesque tribute to smalltown America, but by unwittingly exposing the bumbling foolery beneath its surface. The book is one of those rare works of satire that combine creative form, uproariously funny text and a painfully sharp underpinning of social criticism.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I entered the town of Wigfield with abandon, hoping to get caught up in the same obscurely dark humor the writers three made famous in their absurdly funny series "Strangers with Candy" series. While the trio may never recapture the Pantheon of Comedy 'Strangers' was they try very hard with "Wigfield" and fail, miserably.
'Wigfield' is less a book than a collection of morbid and demented characterizations of the townsfolk which inhabit the contaminated topsoil of the books namesake. Loosely structured by a narcoleptic, gluttonous aspiring journalist, the book reflects the sad sack wordsmith's quest for an easy 50,000 words of easy type. One wonders if the same dead-end journey was also endured by Sedaris and her cohorts, as the book seems to be written with a similarly half-hearted effort.
The breadth of the work is a compatible display likened to their fictional protagonist as he pushes his way into the literary world. A display that is disappointing on all the parts of those involved, fictional or otherwise.
The book shakes down like this: There is a town. It is threatened by the destruction of a dam. The main commodity of the town is, rather, was plutonium. The townsfolk, as well as the town, have been classified as a Super Fund project in the works. Many interviews are taken. The townspeople are personalized. A paper-thin morale is drawn in the defense of small-town America as it is attacked progressively by bureaucratic law and Urban sprawl. And in the end...Read more ›
Even the simplest of comedic bits work like magic in parts of WIGFIELD, e.g., when pyromaniac-in-denial sheriff Hoyt Gein fends off self-accusations of setting aflame a Wigfield polling station and yet wistfully refers to fire as "the golden god." Gein's analysis of a series of local murders (p. 47) becomes ironic to the Nth degree when the sheriff summarizes the temporal pattern in the crimes as occurring primarily at night, except for those that occurred during the day, with the further exception of "the string of dusk and dawn killings."
The socio-political culture of Wigfield is framed in reference to its collection of emotionally, mentally, and physically deformed squatters, whose greatest "natural" resources are used tires and chassis. Colbert, DiNello, and Sedaris do not describe this imagined culture with a wink and a nod; they rather unleash a frustrated collage of world-weariness. WIGFIELD is not the best "book" you'll ever read, but it is one that you should read . . . if for no other reason, then at least to attempt to determine why you are laughing.
Wigfield, however, is a totally different animal.
Throughout the book the protagonist, Russell Hokes, repeatedly drones that his sole goal is reaching the 50,000 word minimum required by the publishing company he fooled into signing him. It seems that Sedaris, Dinello and Colbert had the same goal in mind. The book consists of little more than an assortment of grotesque, thinly developed caricatures (like the characters in Jimmy Buffett's "Who is Joe Merchant," but less engaging) piling non-sequitur upon mixed metaphor with little comic effect. While past works prove that the authors have the skills and intelligent wit to to this inspiringly well, "Wigfield," sadly, falls flat.
I hope to see these comic Gods put out something worthy of their combined names in the near future, but as Jerry Blank might remark, "This book is all shake and seeds."
But then again, maybe I just miss Tammy Littlenut, that li'l spitfire ...
Most recent customer reviews
I can't agree with the negative reviewers, not even a bit. The humour here is savage and wonderful. Just a list of the names of the strip bars in Wigfield is funny. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2007 by Clarissa
If you like Stephen Colbert's work on the Daily Show and Harvey Birdman, you'll love this audiobook. He does most of the narration. Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by Matthew Henry
This book is definitely very "Strangers with Candy"-ish. Yes, the joke runs a little long at the end, but it's still a funny read. Read morePublished on June 30 2004
The authors made a quick buck in an afternoon trading on their names. They should be ashamed of themselves. A lazy, unfunny book.Published on May 4 2004
Excellent, dead-on, I'm convinced Wigfield is in Florida somewhere. You'll get your money's worth buying it for the characters' photographs alone, they're true works of art.Published on April 30 2004 by L. Williams
I grew up in the town of Great Hope (adjacent to Wigfield) and remember when these events happened. Russell Hokes does a splendid, admirable, brilliant, celebrated, distinguished,... Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2004 by Glenn Birkemeier
I got the tape and loved it. You have the added benefit of character voices. But the writing is so great that I'm sure the book reads just as well, if you're into that kind of... Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2004 by kelly
I am a huge fan of Stephen Colbert's work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as well as "Strangers with Candy". Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2004 by TDS2BE
Absolutely hilarious...Read it alone because you'll embarass yourself laughing outloud.Published on Dec 26 2003
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