Before you read further, be warned: this book is bad. Hideously bad. Horribly bad. So bad that it’s good. And I loved it. This one’s definitely a guilty pleasure.
As I pored through the pages of Apache Flame, I was constantly reminded of Mel Brook’s classic farce The Producers, in which Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder consciously try to produce a Broadway flop and end up with a huge hit carrying the dubious title of Springtime for Hitler. I doubt that Madeline Baker was looking to write a (need I say it again?) bad book, but if Apache Flame becomes a best seller, it won’t be for its glorious plot or subtle writing style. It will be because Baker has crafted the best parody since Weird Al Yankovic’s Eat It topped the comedy charts.
Here’s the basic plot, if you can keep it straight. Mitch, the half-Apache son of the town drunk and Alisha, the prim and proper preacher’s daughter, become best friends in elementary school. Five years later, they’re more than friends. One Big Misunderstanding later, Alisha’s never going to speak to Mitch again. Still, they manage to get through her father’s deathbed confessions, her fiancé’s objections, an attack by the Comanche, reunions with several long-lost relatives, a death in the family and an Apache wedding ceremony that plays like a scene from The Love Boat. In between several more cliches, they have time for plenty of steamy sex with prose so purple it stains the page. One brief example: “She moaned and pressed herself against him, wanting to crawl inside his skin, to feel what he felt, to hold him close within her body and never let him go. . . she gave herself over to his keeping, heart and soul, mind and body. She was his as she had always been his.”
When Alisha’s not wanting to crawl inside of Mitch’s skin, she’s busy making stupid decisions, like trekking across the desert after the Apache with hardly any supplies and the guidance of a stranger she met in town the day before. Or falling asleep when a band of Comanche is plotting to rape her.
The writing style of Apache Flame is also very strange. Facts change. For example, early in the book, Mitch wonders why his father ever married his mother but later on, he’s referred to as the town drunk’s bastard son. And, of course, the Apache speak broken English with no contractions. Things are made even more confusing by the fact that Mitch goes by the name of Otter when he’s with the Apache, causing an identity crisis for character and reader alike.
We’re also asked to believe that Mitch’s four-year-old toddler brother (who can hunt buffalo and understand adult concepts such as premarital sex) learns how to read and write within a week. Took me five years. Make no mistake, this book is bad. But there’s a difference between bad and awful. Awful shouldn’t be read. Bad is ripe with entertainment value. If you’re in the mood for a satire that will have tears of laughter running down your cheeks, pick up Apache Flame.
|Review Date:||August 19, 1999|