Godzilla Rabbit
 Pat Springle
Language: English Release: 1995
Publisher: Pick Up Books Pages: 159
Genre: Non-Fiction (memoir) ISBN: 1888237031

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Back Cover
Nicholas Driscoll

Godzilla books have conquered many genres, from picture books (Who's Afraid of Godzilla?), humor (Godzilla Discovers America), YA fiction (Godzilla 2000), non-fiction informational (Japan's Favorite Mon-Star), and even memoir (Godzilla on my Mind) and at least one collection of academic essays (In Godzilla's Footsteps). One genre I never expected to find Godzilla inhabit, however, was the “gross-out true stories collection” genre—and, lo and behold, I was right. In Pat Springle's execrable Godzilla Rabbit, Godzilla never makes an appearance.

As usual with the more obscure “Godzilla” books, I had no idea what I was getting into with Godzilla Rabbit when I first cracked open its scant few pages. I had some vague idea that the book was another sort of children's book. There is very little information on the Internet about the work, much like some of the other stinkers I've unfortunately subjected myself to, such as the hopelessly lame Godzilla Meets Master Charge. For the benefit of Godzilla fans the world over, then, this suffering is for you. Basically, Godzilla Rabbit is a collection of very short stories from author Pat Springle's life, most of which are supposedly humorous, several getting by merely via his own personal nostalgia. That's fine; memoir can be very well done, and stories culled from real life are often ample material for some of the most effective humor I've ever heard. However, success in this genre presupposes killer comic timing and, in the case of a book, impressive writing panache. Springle here evinces little of either; the humor is mostly of the “look, something gross or stupid happened to me! Laugh already!” mode, and never goes beyond that. The writing, meanwhile, is textbook amateurish—the kind of stuff one expects to find in a college writing class before the writer learns to really edit his work. There is some painful stuff in here for the well-versed reader.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First I want to examine the cover. Most should be amply clued in by the book's full title: Godzilla Rabbit…and other stories of hippo snot, children, and craziness! Hippo snot, children, and craziness? Do those descriptors make anyone want to actually read the contents of a book? There is nothing on the cover that explicitly indicates the book is non-fiction, or overtly suggests who the audience for this book might be. That immediately smacks of poor marketing and general cluelessness. The overabundance of exclamation points witnesses to the same. None of the quotations published on the back cover are attributed to anyone in particular—literally, anyone could have written them. Neither are they particularly encouraging to the discerning reader, as the following example amply illustrates: “OK, so some of the stories are about loogies and chicken guts and barf and eating bugs on deviled eggs! The rest of the stories are pretty good, too!” Did he have his own family write this stuff?

Unbelievably, the stories are even worse than the quotes on the back would seem to indicate. “Godzilla Rabbit,” the first story in the collection, is a good (bad?) example. The tale can be summed up thus: Pat becomes extremely envious of his brother's two birthday bunnies, and kvetches and whines until his parents agree to allow him to get a single lagomorph pet as well. Pat is peeved that he isn't receiving an equal number of fuzzy fur balls as his brother, and thus attempts to achieve justice in volume by purchasing the largest rabbit he could find. Yeah, that's Godzilla Rabbit. And that's the end of the story, too. Godzilla Rabbit doesn't do a blooming thing; it never smashes its own cage, let alone going on a rampage like on the cover. We're just supposed to be bowled over by Pat's clever (?) means of justice, and chuckle at the “cuteness” of it all. Nope, sorry. Still just stupid—and I would guess that the Godzilla Rabbit was nowhere near the size of the real-life German Giants, which can weigh in at over 20 pounds.

The other stories, for the most part, are just as unsatisfying. They are little more than anecdotes, with little thought given to story structure. “Handicapped Parking,” for example, is particularly egregious. Pat introduces Catherine and Taylor with no context whatsoever, simply expecting the reader to know they are his children. He treats his friends the same way, throwing names around as if we all should know who they are, with little or no actual information about them throughout the actual body of the story. This is a recurring problem in the majority of his tales; they seem to have been written for his friends and family, with no real consideration given to readers outside of his immediate circle. People who know him might find his anecdotes funny; everyone else will wonder what the point is.

A few more examples are in order. “I Hate Golf”—Pat learns how to play golf, then plays in a tournament, does really well, then goofs up a bit on a few holes and decides he hates the sport. The end.

“The Greatest Game Ever”—Pat recounts a football game that was memorable to him, but completely fails to make it interesting for anyone who wasn't there at the time. He even manages to make himself look like a jerk by mentioning how a cheerleader seriously hurts herself right in front of him, setting it up if it's going to be important to the story, and he does nothing to help her. His team wins. The end.

“Gorilla Lunch…Again!”—At a zoo, a gorilla eats bananas, barfs, eats his vomit, then pukes again. The Springle family feels ill. The end.

“Hatchet Man”—Pat and his friend go camping and hear on the radio that a serial killer known as the Hatchet Man recently escaped nearby. They sleep badly and scare themselves and nothing happens. The end.

“Fine Cars”—Pat, as a teenager, is embarrassed to be driven to school in an unfashionable car. The end. (For some reason, in the table of contents, this “story” is called “The Shootist.” Oops.)

“Whitney's Window”—Pat does something dangerous for a photo opportunity and gets shaken up about it. The end.

Pretty much all of the stories are this pathetic, except, unfortunately, they go on much longer. Sometimes synopses can make really well-told stories sound lamer than a wingless Rodan, but Springle's stories couldn't fly even if they were strapped to a jetpack. This comes out in the writing quality as much as anything. Just as on the back cover, he sprinkles on exclamation points liberally, as if his torpid prose only needed a seasoning of excessive punctuation to make it palatable. While occasionally Springle manages a few clever lines couched between dull exposition and his trademark groaner dénouements, he can never rise above the shallowness of the material.

Even for as awful as the book is, I hesitate to be too harsh on Godzilla Rabbit. This sort of writing certainly has its place in small-town newspapers and as gifts for friends and family. If one of my close friends wrote something of similar quality, I am sure I would treasure it because it came from my friend, and I would have an emotional investment in the stories. Maybe Godzilla Rabbit started as just such a project, and Springle was so inspired by the glowing reviews his friends gave him that he decided to actually publish the thing and see if he could make a few bucks off his “hilarious” work. The horrifying thing is that, according to Springle's biographical matter, at the time Godzilla Rabbit was published, he was the author of “about 20 books.” Considering the evidence, and the fact that Pick Up Books is located in Springle's hometown, I can't help but conclude that Godzilla Rabbit was a vanity project gone wrong. Unless you know Springle personally and already like his brand of bathroom humor, you're better off reading Bunnicula to get your monster rabbit fix.