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Sock Paperback – Jul 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Griffin Trade Paperbacks; New title edition (July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312328052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312328054
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Andrew Howes on 5 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book by the very intelligent Penn Jillette. I had enjoyed his autobiographical books, so I thought that I would give this one a go - riveting story and very well written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 40 reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
GOAT HAIR 28 Aug. 2004
By Hank Napkin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An unblinkered sort of book, "Sock" entertains while it instructs. There's a little bit of Martin Amis here, angry and funny and dark. There's a decent refutation of Pascal as well -- if you like that sort of thing there's another good one by Stanislaw Lem you might look up. The pop culture references are sometimes a bit forced, but more often than not it's fun to think about how the individual references relate to the story itself: a nice, concise way to dimensionalize the narrative. The references have a great reach, along the lines of early Mystery Science Theatre 3000. It starts with the Rolling Stones (great re-purposing of existing material) and manages to reach as far back (out?) to Safe as Milk / Trout Mask Replica vintage Captain Beefheart. Click Clack.

As a novel, "Sock" is really somewhat basic, it transposes traditional stock elements of "mysteries" into a more abstract set of events. The technique could be interpreted as a gimmick, if it weren't for the fact that the whodunit aspects aren't the real driving force of the narrative. That said, the prose is the thing and it remains fully charged throughout (honestly: no let down in the second act). In fact, in many ways the story itself could easily be considered secondary. The real driving force is some pointed stabs at capital "F" faith, god and all that comes with it. You'll find an undressing of the notion of being agnostic and a strong call for atheism. Rats, rats lay down flat.

This orientation does manage to depart, again, from the typical novel form and end our little story with a sort of essay in unmitigated and convincing favor of sanity over faith. Sock lets you know in no uncertain terms that it's time to put god on the shelf with the rest of your toys and start living like a thinking adult. Given the current tone of life in the good old U.S., this is a brave act and I think we owe Mr. Jillette our of thanks for adding to the ever more urgent literature and ideas capable of getting us out of the dark ages and into touch with a more real world. Time to replace superstition with a more genuine sense of ourselves and the world we live in. Hey! If you still need something to believe, believe in Sock. La Rossa extends her hand.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Believers need not apply 2 Aug. 2004
By J. C. Foster - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I read an article about this book coming out, I thought Best. Idea. Ever. An Atheist sock monkey telling a murder mystery. Brilliant!

I wouldn't have read it had it not been by Penn Jillette. First things first: I used to hate Penn and Teller. Back when Penn did all the voice over work for Comedy Central, he drove me nuts. But my perspective changed dramaticly after the Showtime series "Bull****." The show was fantastic. I agreed with almost every single thing on there, and it gave me a whole new dimension to who Penn Jillette was: An Atheist, like me. He's very charasmatic, convincing, and intelligent on the show. I'd even go so far as to say I have a man-crush on him.

This book is really an Atheist manifesto thinly disguised as a murder mystery told through the POV of a Sock Monkey. There is a story there, but it gets sidetracked a LOT and goes on about social commentary, including quite a bit on religion. All the lead characters are Atheist as well. And because it comes from such a hard slant, anyone of faith may have a pretty tough time getting through this.

Most people might have a tough time anyway. The writing starts off very dense. Very stream of consciousness. The level of the density at the beginning doesn't hold up all the way through, though. And the constant song refrences get kind of old. Sometimes they really seem thrown in. If it weren't the most famouse chorus lines from each song, I might not have minded.

What I think the story really is about is a love story between a gay man and a straight man without turning into a traditional love story. I am going to assume that this being Penn's first novel, and the first persion perspective, that it is mostly his actual voice coming through in the book. If so, then I have to say that he is probably the most well adjusted human being on the face of this planet. The world needs a lot more people like him.

The one thing that turned me off (besides the scant dialogue, which doesn't even apear until 50+ pages in) would be the resolution. I thought it was a bit of a cop out. It lost a little bit of its edge for me there.

All in all Sock got me to do something I haven't done in two years: Read a book. I'm not going to say it was great, but it was good. It kept me thinking about it long after I finished it, which is what every good book should do.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
excellent first novel 26 Feb. 2005
By James J. Lippard - Published on
Format: Paperback
Penn argues for atheism, subtly promotes the Libertarian Party (pp. 96-97), argues against newage (p. 101), criticizes Buddhism (pp. 139, 186), explains cold reading (pp. 184-185), puts Scientology in its place (pp. 163, 210), and tells an entertaining story of a NYPD diver and murder from the point of view of the diver's boyhood sock monkey.

I enjoyed the book very much. The ending of many paragraphs with pop culture references was at first annoying, but it became more comfortable as the book progressed, and the lines were well selected. (There's a site on the Internet that lists them all and where they came from.)

My only complaint is a very jarring change of voice that occurs in a paragraph on pp. 166-167 ("a friend of ours").
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Who Needs Joyce, When There's Jillette? 12 Aug. 2004
By Tommy - Published on
Format: Paperback
I think the other reviewers here have covered the bases (or, basis) pretty thoroughly and they all gave great reviews, so I won't reiterate what has been already said. Though if I may take but just a moment of your time.

I recently bought Sock as to have something new to read while I traveled on a 2,600-mile road trip. I had already known that Penn Jillette was opinionated and intelligent, though I felt I might be taking a risk by reading him. I mean it was going to be a long ride and I needed something that would keep me entertained. Well, I was more than entertained by Sock; it really offered powerful insight for me to contemplate between pages.

I read constantly, modern and classic, many genres. I love books that push the proverbial envelope, whether with prose or with insight, preferably both. Moreover, while Jillette may not possess grammatical perfection, he does possess a style all his own. It's what he writes, the boldly stated truth, which makes this novel so powerful. Sock is filled with truth and emotion, and it points out the similarity and the difference between the two.

One thing I would like to mention is the Atheist air that surrounds this novel. Though I'm sure those who hold strict moralistic and religious beliefs might be appalled or even offended by some of the material, they shouldn't be. The way I see it, those very individuals could view this novel as a way to reaffirm their strength in their beliefs, not simply turn up their noses and make excuses without even reading it, or they might just learn something about themselves and learn to think for themselves. I would really love those people to read this book, whether they agree or not, just read it. However, my understanding tells me that they won't. It's their loss, really.

I feel so much attention is brought about by the atheist air that surrounds this book. And, as the saying goes: "There's no such thing as bad press". But, Sock is not completely atheist in context, even if Jillette is a self-proclaimed atheist. It's being used as a label because atheism is the most common term. Overall, Sock is existential more than atheistic. When someone says that he or she is an existentialist, no one gives a damn. But, when someone says that they are an atheist, people go crazy, whether they agree or disagree doesn't matter, you now have their attention.

What's the difference between atheism and existentialism you may ask? Well, atheism focuses its argument upon the non-existence of god, while existentialism focuses its argument upon OUR existence. Existentialism brings us closer to the reality of solipsism. And, the argument of the solipsist focuses on the fact that the individual self is all that is known or can be known. And that my friend is really the point being made with this novel. Sock just also happens to be an entertaining, heartfelt, intellectual story with a point. Please buy this book. Do it not because I asked please. Do it because you owe it to yourself.

One more thing, I gave Sock 5 stars because frankly, it's the best work I've read all year, and being that I've read selections from the "ivory tower" of literature this year as well, that's saying a lot.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Sock it to me 27 Aug. 2004
By "acidrain71" - Published on
Format: Paperback
I found Jillette's (has anyone ever referred to him that way?) novel on a table of books marked "You CAN judge a book by its cover." The bookstore's attempt to be clever I assume. I read the back cover and was immediately intrigued. Having now finished reading it (a task accomplished in about a day and half), I can honestly tell you there is no way you can judge this book by its cover.
The hyperkinetic style draws you in immediately. But it's more than just razzle-dazzle. Insight, wit and clever observations leap off every page. Jillette knows how he feels and he's not holding back. Nobody else with the possible exception of Michael Moore has cajones this big. If PC is your bag, this book is NOT for you. If you voted for W, this book is NOT for you. If you think there is too much sex and violence on TV, then put the book down, walk away and ask the nice man at the bookstore where the Danielle Steel novels are. If you think the world is pretty [expletive deleted] up and sometimes it makes you want to scream, then buy this book right now and savour every word.
The book is told in the first person from the point of view of a sock monkey. The sock monkey is owned by an NYPD diver who pulls dead bodies out of a river. After he winds up fishing out his ex, he and a gay hairdresser friend take it upon themselves to solve catch the killer. It's an interesting story, though WHO dunnit is not what is most important here; what is important is why--and the journey along the way. If you can turn off your mind, relax and float down stream, then you might want to let Sock take you on that journey.
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