Book review: ‘Jim Giraffe’ by Daren King [NSFW]

(contains spoilers)

(also WARNING I will also be exclusively using Mamrie Hart GIFs in this book review because I stumbled across a GIF database and it just WORKS, DAMMIT.)

Alright.

Alright, OK.

OK.

I’m not sure how I got here, or why. Reading this book felt like stacking twelve tabs of E on my tongue, with the acknowledgement that I would eventually lose my mind, any understanding of the universe and likely the control of my bowels.

‘Jim Giraffe’ came highly recommended from my everyday-hot-chocolate-pouring-barista whose opinions I shall now no longer trust. So that you can all understand from the get-go what this book is about, I’m going to share with you the whole blurb: 

“Meet Scott Spectrum. Scott is being haunted by a ghost giraffe called Jim who turns up one night in his wardrobe. Jim is on a mission to save Scott (who hasn’t touched his wife, Continence, for years) from certain death by sexual repression. 

To save himself, Scott must perform every sex act in the lovemaker’s lexicon. The prudish Scott is at first shocked by the perverted, yellow giraffe. But he accepts Jim’s help and comes to see him as his best friend. Little does he realise that the ghost giraffe has his own agenda and that his suburban idyll is about to be well and truly buggered up.” 

I really should have prepared myself. This book delivers on the promise in its blurb. It is a random, no-rules bonanza of sex (or sexual repression) and witty dialogue. And it sort-of works. For the first hundred pages. 

I’ve read a number of similar books to this before, because I find this kind of literature funny. My favorites are all by Chuck Tingle (a pseudonym if you didn’t guess), who creates absolutely off-the-wall gay niche erotica such as ‘Pounded by my Handsome Zombie Elevator who is also a Lawyer’, ‘Unicorn Butt Cops: Beach Patrol’ – and my personal favorite: ‘There’s a Bitcoin in my Butt and he is Handsome.’

Image result for there's a bitcoin in my butt and he is handsome ebook

I know, I know – go and Google. And inevitably download one of the e-books. I’ll wait.

In the latter, the protagonist meets a handsome Bitcoin in a bar, takes him home and then overnight, the Bitcoin doubles in value (culturally relevant) and they have a threesome. It’s just wacky, ridiculous and brilliantly entertaining.  

There are a lot of rumours and theories about Chuck Tingle but I personally take a lot of his work (including his photoshopped covers) to be a deliberate commentary on poorly structured erotic fiction. One of the reasons that his short stories are so successful (over 50 pieces are Amazon self-published bestsellers) is because they stick to a theme, they take it to the extreme and there is little need for plot because the story is so short. 

This is the place that I think ‘Jim Giraffe’ falls down. It starts off strong, with an intriguing first few pages and a unique and exciting style of writing. But the wackiness becomes a bit exhausting and once the hilarity of a perverted talking giraffe ghost has settled, there aren’t many other places to take the story. That’s not to say that King doesn’t try – Jim the Giraffe becomes ‘Doctor Giraffe’, another character who Scott does not identify as Jim, despite being the only other talking giraffe he knows – and who then proceeds to impregnate his wife.

The style of the writing stays fairly consistent throughout, even while the plot whirls around the reader’s head like water running down a plughole. This book seems to be edited very little – it reads like a stream of consciousness – as though the characters are writing their own stories without much thought for the plot or the pacing of the novel (which is, after all 212 pages long). However, it does give rise to some interesting sentences like this one, which blurs the action and thought process together well: ‘Which reminds me. Continence. Wherefore art thou. I rise from my high-tech armchair and look round.’

The whole story revolves around sex – seeking it out, repressing it, discovering new dirty secrets about members of the family, sex acts and endless conversations. Which, fair enough – we were warned about in the blurb. A particularly odd scene sees Scott and Continence needing to crawl naked on all fours in order to be injected in the a-nus with cream to cure their brain cancer. Don’t ask.

But overall it falls rather flat as the brain cancer plot point is drawn into the light and then disappears a moment later. Everything in this book is transitory – their lives continue on as if these actions haven’t really occurred. In a way, this is the kiss of death for the characters, as over time you lose any emotional investment, knowing that they will never really suffer the consequences or impact of the actions that go before. 

There are numerous tiny scenes which are funny but entirely random and unnecessary, i.e. when Jim takes Scott’s mobile phone: 

“Plug that back in at once,” I demand. “It’s recharging. What are you doing?”

“Stuffing it up my nose,” Jim says, stuffing it up his nose. 

“Take it out.”

Jim is starting to panic. “It’s gone all the way up. Can you reach it?”

“Giraffe snot travels and[sic] nine hundred kilometres a second,” Jim says in a meanwhile-here-is-some-music sort of voice. “Fast enough to impregnate a sperm whale.”

There are some moments that are reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ style – quite obvious, childlike humor: “His ear is an odd shape, pointy, with tufts of orange hair. His other ear is the same, though in reverse.”

Similarly with the characters, King opts for a very shallow and simple measure of humor which is parodic in itself – for example: Doctor Mann is ‘a ladylike doctor who dresses like a man’, and Scott works for ‘Science Fiction Studios’, writing a script for ‘Space Man In Space’. It is spelled out for us when we are ‘supposed’ to laugh – and while some novels with this level of simplistic humor contains a number of darker and deeper themes and motifs under the surface, I don’t feel like ‘Jim Giraffe’ has many that are well crafted.

I DID however enjoy a brief breaking of the fourth wall, which I haven’t experienced in a piece of literature ever before: “Jim, don’t be difficult. If you get a reputation for being difficult, people won’t want to work with you anymore and you won’t be in the rest of the novel.” It was an unexpected and delightful little titbit.

Trying to explain the book is almost as difficult as reading it. And I must say – I understand that this book is not MEANT to be ‘good’. King wasn’t after a Booker Prize here. It is meant to be absolutely insane. While it delivers on that, I do still feel like there should be an element of enjoyment and entertainment that comes from the reading process. But in the end it was just too long, and I felt like there was no real point to the story.

In conclusion, curious ones (well done for reading down to the bottom as I have little idea what I was even talking about).

It’s an unusual read if you need something new to cut through your current reading stack and reset your brain – but if it’s specifically cheeky, dirty literature you’re looking for, I would recommend Chuck Tingle be your guide instead, as his stories can be read in a mere fifteen minutes (also ABSOLUTELY NSFW).


And I’m aware that there is a bit of a cult following to this book, so I’m interested to hear all y’all thoughts. If you loved it – which bits? I want to have a conversation about this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s