I Can Say Interpellation
Illustrated by Clelia Scala
My husband was given this book as a gift this weekend (thank you, Greg and Lisa!), and I think it’s one of my all-time favourite parodies. In I Can Say Interpellation Stephen Cain uses the familiar rhymes and rhythms of children’s books to make exquisitely barbed comments on contemporary politics. “Marx on Box,” for example, is a wonderful riff on Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks, set in the streets of Seattle during the WTO riots. (He reads it in the video below, but he is far too modest a reader. I am giddy with admiration for the book and I would like to be able to share a clip of a much more animated reading.)
In “The Very Hungry Capitalist,” the capitalist’s feast climaxes thusly:
On Friday he ate up all the funding for social housing, public transportation, feminist research, environmental initiatives, unemployment insurance, universal daycare, Native land claims, and all the funding for the arts.
That night he felt a little guilty.
If you recognize the original and you sympathize with the sentiment, then this book is meant for you.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and even Go the Fuck to Sleep, gave me a chuckle, but the joke wears out quickly; it’s novelty comedy. Parody is the frame for what Stephen Cain is doing here, but the value of the satirical commentary in the poems is far deeper and far more resonant. This is a book for adults, particularly left-leaning adults with children to whom they have read the originals of these poems over and over and over again. Parody with a healthy dose of moral outrage.
The illustrations by Clelia Scala work perfectly with the text, with collages that pair familiar images from fifties domestic scenes and Victorian illustration, with memento mori that highlight the theme of death and destruction in so many of the poems.
Stephen Cain’s modest demeanour does not do justice to how fantastic I think this book is, but if you want to hear the author read some of the poems, here he is reading from the collection
and here is in an interview about the book.
Thanks again, Greg and Lisa, for doing my holiday shopping for me. I will be buying multiple copies of this book for gifts this year.