They lied to me about the pickle

Welcome once again to my dungeon. It’s here that I am stuck, here that I spend my days with nothing but bad books to read and bad movies to watch. Perhaps one day I will escape to greener pastures and be able to breath the free air once again. Literally you could say I was in a tough situation. Just don’t tell me there is a pickle involved. There are no pickles here. You know where else there are zero pickles? Pets in a Pickle by Malcolm D. Welshman.

I thought that I would end up hating this book more than I do. I will admit there is some decent humor in it and if you love The Sound of Music, animals, and bad puns, this is the book for you. Unfortunately, I cannot stand The Sound of Music, only appreciate my own bad puns, and am so so on animals in general. As far as animals go, it really depends on if they are the type to try to bite me or not.

The basic plot is that Paul is a new veterinarian in a small country town and there is a series of cute-ish stories where a pet needs some attention, Paul has no idea what he is doing, but somehow manages to save the pet anyway, repeat. Instead of really analyze the plot I am going to just point out some things that either made no sense or I personally disliked.

I am not sure if it’s the case that Paul comes from a very bad veterinarian school, or if he is just dumb. In the first chapter he sticks his hands into a cage, then is surprised by the fact that his finger gets bit by a hamster. He didn’t even seem to know that he was going to see a hamster. Let me give you a clue, dude, check the chart first! Or if you can’t even do that, ask the owners, what have you got there for me in the cage?

In the second chapter, Paul, sees a bird and doesn’t seem to know what to do to treat it. He figures it out but acts like he has never seen a bird in his life. So, what exactly was he studying? This goes on like this, chapter after chapter. Horse? Never foaled one before. Cow? Haven’t seen one. Pig, nope. He does seem to know what dogs and cats are at least, so I’ll give him those. I get that he is new and all, but come on man, tell me you at least saw a freaking lecture on this stuff or something. If that’s how human doctors learn, I am glad I am stuck down in this dungeon, not at the doctor’s office.

Paul has a serious Julie Andrews obsession. Like in a majorly unhealthy way. He goes to interview for his job at a vet’s office and the vet in charge reminds him of Julie Andrews. Specifically Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Now, it’s my personal hang up that whenever I hear Do Re Mi, I go into an uncontrollable rage, plug my ears and start singing Hell’s Bells by AC/DC just to counteract it. Years and years of a younger sister and repeated rainy day viewings of that film classic will do that to you. But Paul’s thing just gets weird.

Why is it weird? Glad I asked myself. So, for starters, Crystal (the vet) is married to Eric (who also works in this office) and Paul is dating a vet’s assistant named Lucy (who also works in this office). Yet, Paul is constantly fantasizing about being with Crystal in a romantic sense, picturing her as Julie Andrews. I’m talking at least three times a chapter. And even stranger, he tells us at one point, that he keeps thinking of her that way because his mother was in a play version of The Sound of Music so that’s why he is attracted to her. A, ewwwwwwww. B, this kind of thing is reserved for George R.R. Martin ok? Find your own creepy material.

The puns in this novel are relentless. Non-stop. Never ending. And seriously predictable. Is there a pig in the chapter? Paul will save his bacon. Is Paul waiting in a field with a cow? He could be there till the cows come home. Is Paul seeing a bird? Don’t ruffle his feathers. If you need a few thousand dad worthy puns, this is your book.

This is a vet’s office right? But a guy brings in a snake and literally everyone but Paul and Crystal clear out as if the place were on fire. I know some people have phobias and all, but if you work in a vets office that takes all animals, you’re gonna have to expect some snakes. Besides, it could be worse, they could be on a plane.

Lucy and Paul live together for a good chunk of the book but she seems to sour on the relationship near the end. It’s never really explained why she sours on Paul or exactly why she wants to be with him at the end. If you are going to have a falling out with the main love interest in the book, do the audience a favor, and explain what it’s all about. There is a sequel to this book so it could be there, but no way do I care enough to find out. I’m going to give you my reason. Paul probably wouldn’t shut up about Julie Andrews, Lucy saw Paul looking wantonly at Crystal and figured things out, then Paul mentioned his mother and Lucy left as is reasonable. That’s just me speculating though.

Remember when I said I wasn’t sure if Paul was dumb or if it was a bad veterinary school he came from? I can’t say for sure about the vet school but by the end I was convinced Paul was dumb. Why? He talks to, is attracted to, and gets a hug from a firefighter and is not sure if she is a woman until she specifically says she is. I know it can be hard to tell gender (no judgments from me on what gender (or non-gender) you choose to be) and firefighters can have a lot of gear on, making it tough to see who is inside, But Paul was right up close talking to her, found her attractive, and instead of thinking, this is probably a woman I am talking to, starts to question his own sexuality. Maybe I am wrong though, maybe Paul is actually just visually impaired? I don’t know, it was weird and it made me think Paul was dumb from the way it was written.

Finally, and I will tell you this is my biggest problem with this book, there were no pickles mentioned. Where were the pickles? Big green pickles? Pigs eating some pickles? Tiny mice somehow literally stuck in a pickle (or even a pickle jar)? A game of pickle from baseball where an animal is running from base to base? NOPE! Not a single pickle. Never once mentioned. And the potential for puns in all of those situations is astronomical. I want my money of the zero dollars I paid for this book back. Plus a pickle.

Next week I will be back to review Dead in the West by Joe R. Lansdale. I wonder if that’s preferable to being dead in any other particular direction?

Frustratingly yours,

Slick Dungeon


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