This book is brilliant. Set in the ‘cold war’ era, it’s the autobiographical account of Chuck Bariss, who in the sixties was TV host by day and so he tells us, a CIA assassin by night.
The author has an incredible imagination, and although it is 'just a story' and one which has to be taken with a pinch of salt, you begin to feel there is more to this than meets the eye.
If you don’t think you know who Chuck Bariss is, he is creator of Blind Date and Mr and Mrs and a plethora of other trash TV programmes pumped out in the late sixties. Bariss in his time was seen as being responsible for the ‘dumbing’ down of middle American society, which personally I don’t think is a bad thing, but apparently he was lambasted by the media for it and run out of America.
The book begins in Bariss’ hotel room, he is stood naked contemplating his life, in which he provides a detailed description of certain parts of his anatomy, that nearly made choke with laughter.
The whole story is so fantastic, and detailed, that you begin to think, there must be an element of truth in there somewhere, nothing this bizarre could be made up. There are threads running through the book, that cross then twist and result, in what can only be described as a ‘wacky’ climax.
You may not like Bariss, but your not supposed to. He is a horny, self loathing, chauvinistic, egomaniac, and a killer to boot. But somehow, as the book goes on, you begin feel enamoured with his character, understanding his boredom and why he gets his kicks from killing. His first assassination, which is seen by Bariss like as a guys weekend away, quickly turns into fast violent mayhem, and its vivid description will make you squirm in your seat.
There is an excellent line at the end of the book, another idea Bariss had for a quiz show, I can’t remember if they included it in the film, but it is a perfect exclamation point to life.