Donovan O'Malley appears to have an endless resource of humor and social commentary. Not only has he proved to us that he can write astonishingly well (LEMON GULCH is a must read in its reincarnation), but he is also a fine artist - or illustrator - or whatever the term is for those who can successfully pull off books with pictures that are integral to the story! THE JIMMY JONES SKANDAL is subtitled 'A Humorous Bedtime Story for Adults' and it is a complete success!
Jimmy Jones is a typical five-year old kid who loves to play cowboys and Indians, loves sweets and hates baths, BUT atypical in that he has a 40-year-old Mistress whom he satisfies by buying expensive cocktails (to excess), cigarettes (to excess) etc. But Jimmy is happy with the situation until he meets a rather middle-class-taste little girl his age named Lola May Anderson and alters the direction of his attention away from his tacky mistress - a fact that drives the mistress to distraction. Not to be outdone, the mistress decides to regain her little lover by bargaining Lola May's devotion to Jimmy with promises of endless sweets. The Mistress wins and prepares herself to resume her affair with Jimmy but Jimmy has other distractions - equally as adult!
Some writers (and artists) could attempt a tale as absurd as this and fall flat in bad taste. But Donovan O'Malley is a master at grotesque humor and this little book comes across as superb, high quality entertainment - with a nose for the naughty! Grady Harp, January 11
It has all the ingredients: A younger man with an older (alluring) mistress. Appearance of a younger woman (roughly the man's age), not as alluring but offering material benefits. The mistress confronts the younger woman and, while they are fashioning a 'sisterly' agreement the man disappears with a third (hot) woman, who has access to cigarettes at a discount and with whom he has been involved all along.
Pretty hot stuff. But then know that the man and the younger woman are neither of these things, but children, the cigarette girl looks about twenty and the mistress is a forty-year old.
I think it was Hemingway who said that a writer should strive to express complex things simply, or words to that effect. And Donovan O'Malley has, under the guise of biting black humour, done that to great effect.
The relationships within this tangle are as symbiotic here as in a completely adult world, but the dynamic is fundamentally altered, throwing up many questions:
Had it been the females leading young Jimmy a dance one might have seen it as a comment upon how men, when women are involved, tend to start behaving like little boys; but, as stated, this is a symbiotic ecosystem under examination - what female manipulation has taken place has been reciprocated - and the moral is 'never trust a five-year old'.
It might be seen as a caution against the modern trend towards ageism - increasing media and marketing emphasis upon younger and younger audiences and consumers. The exact definition of 'cougar' (the human female, not the big cat) varies, but the most commonly-accepted definition is of a woman forty years of age or older who exclusively pursues very young men. Jimmy Jones's mistress is exactly forty and he is a very young man indeed. This is a cougar on a tightrope, and when the fall comes there is no climbing back. In today's world the fives are in charge and forty is way over the hill.
All this is complete nonsense, of course. But that is not the point. The point is that good, telling writing encourages ideas like this, many of which will be less wild than those of this reviewer. Had all the characters been adults - or children - then we would have chuckled at a very funny story, and put the book aside. It is the brilliant mixing of ages that leaves us thinking.
An added strength are the excellent, highly original and funny illustrations (by the author). I found myself actually fancying the cigarette girl (a very effective yardstick by which to measure the illustrator's art, I've found).
Donovan O'Malley has written - and is writing - full-length novels of an equally high standard, and I look forward to a steady supply to brighten the cold winter nights (or warm summer ones, for that matter).