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Safari Honeymoon
posted May 6, 2014

imageCreator: Jesse Jacobs
Publishing Information: Koyama Press, softcover, 80 pages, May 2014, $16.
Ordering Numbers: 9781927668407 (ISBN13)

If I were instructed to attend and, then, some time later, leave this weekend's TCAF with zero books walking in and only one under my arm as I trundled my way out, I would give serious consideration to that book being Jesse Jacobs' Safari Honeymoon, receiving a slightly early con debut a couple of weeks ahead of its late May release. It's a very pretty book, handsomely packaged and reasonably priced. It is impeccably pedigreed in terms of that sub-culture's cool checklist: intriguing artist, an at-least felt connection to mainstream entertainment of the moment, third book, admired publisher. And it is very good. Safari Honeymoon revists the author's interest in edenic landscapes (literally, figuratively) by showing us a city couple on their honeymoon deep in a relentless, odd, deadly jungle. They are accompanied by a Reginald Jeeves-style hyper-competent guide and a lot of the instances of humor in the book's first half pop bowler-hatted and monocled and tut-tutting from a very old place: the idea that a dangerous wilderness can be tamed in immediate vicinity by one buttoned-up man working at the behest of others. The plot progresses from a series of successful negotiations with the dangerous world around the trio, to one side of that struggle losing a key player, to the final fate of the newlyweds. By the end of the book, much of the initial set-up has been reversed. One cannot pummel nature into submission, even politely and matter-of-factly and maintaining a stiff upper lip. Survival counts on seeing a place for what it is, and acquiescing to our place there.

At least that's one reading of this book; hell if I really know what's going on here. I'm still working on the last one, and there was Bible stuff in there to serve as signposts. Here's why I really like this one, at least for right now. It's visually inventive, particularly the figure and creature designs but mostly throughout. It's funny at least once every few pages, and in different ways. I mentioned the competent, calming stiffness of the guide but there's also amusing creature designs and a few moments of verbal interplay that stack up. In fact, the whole damn thing becomes funnier as the overwhelming power of the place and its sweep become more apparent. We're not looking at tourists on a raft; we're looking at ticks on a dog's ass. God help these poor souls. The best thing about my reading of Safari Honeymoon is how frequently I was surprised. For instance, the relationship between the couple is portrayed sweetly rather than cynically; they seem a pair of mistmatched souls working through elements common to all of our engagements with others that rarely get explored: choice, inexplicable desire, awe, gratitude, grace. I'll buy that ticket anytime it's offered. I worry that Safari Honeymoon may be slight, but I don't question the fun I'll have in figuring that out.