Brent Butt “Huge” 3.5 stars
“It’s all fun and games, until someone loses an…[arm].”
Thank you to Penguin Readers for the advanced copy of "Huge."
The successful TV writer of Corner Gas, Brent Butt, has written swift, punchy, and catchy lines in HUGE, with an intriguing plot, and crafted just as you’d imagine watching it on the boob tube. We may even see this streaming on our TVs soon. Although I hadn’t heard of Butt or watched his show, I can tell he’s a talented screenwriter and is easily on his way to becoming a skillful thriller author. I applaud this debut novel for being a quick, three-day read and entertaining.
The protagonists and antagonists are as quick-reading thrillers require, not very deep or soulful but action-orientated. I had a problem with the point of view (POV) switches within a page or a chapter at the beginning. Not a dealbreaker for a good read, but by chapter nine, it was a distraction: that and missing punctuation (closing quotes on page 104). Nit-picky, I know. I soon realized this was a bumpy start to an omniscient POV, which is a big literary bite to chew off or perhaps an easy transition from screenwriting. But at about a third to halfway through, the omniscient voice hit its stride and rhythm…for me.
Aside from this, I really enjoyed the story. It was a fun read. The comedy act and the behind-the-scenes story are HUGE-ly interesting and amusing. The dialogue is fantastic, as it should be from a veteran TV screenwriter. The characters keep the plot moving forward and exciting, as all are edgy to some degree. Dale, the tired, aging comic, is a wise but firm, doesn’t-put-up-with-BS kind of guy who carries on doing stand-up to earn bucks for his daughter.’s college education. Dale is also the reluctant mentor-of-sorts to the other two comics on the road with him: Rynn, an Irish, young, snappy female comic hoping to host a TV show, and Hobie Huge, the young, disturbing, giant of a comic wannabe, who performs between the two others due a favor owed to Huge’s equally violent family member, but Huge has no business on stage. As Butt writes on the cover, with tongue-in-cheek irony, “IN COMEDY, KILLING IS A GOOD THING.” Hobie Huge’s acts flop, leading to (more of) his unhinging and exposing his true talent.
The book is a page-turner with all the hallmarks of a thriller with a comedic twist. The reader knows Hobie is dangerous from the get-go. The other comics soon discover Hobie is psychotic and, eventually, that he’s sadistic too. The reader is uneasy from the beginning, knowing Dale and Rynn are in peril as the three perform their comedy from Manitoba, east toward Montreal. It’s an original premise, as far as I can tell, with the often-overlooked Canadian setting of small-town comedy stages. HUGE is a gripping, fast, and fun read, and Butt pushes the envelope of what-ifs throughout and delivers a speedy and satisfying ending.