A Garbled Titantic Smolonyesque Brilliance


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Inger Sheil

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Just took receipt yesterday of Senan Molony’s new work, ‘A Garbled Titantic’.

Those of you on Jeff Newman’s excellent Titanic Mailing List would be familiar with the serialisation of the work that he has been posting. Much as in the days of Dickens when readers rushed to get the latest edition of periodicals printing his works in serial form (but thank God there’s no ‘Little Nell’ in this book), conversation in the mIRC chats and via email and around other virtual water coolers these days has centred around ‘have you seen the latest ‘Garbled Titantic’ installment??

It’s difficult to imagine a work more different in tone from the elegant, poignant and profound The Irish Aboard Titanic - once again, Molony demonstrates his extraordinary range. Few other authors could move so easily, convincingly and successfully from one genre to another so radically different. This is a boisterous, brilliant satire, product of a razor wit and Senan’s uncanny ability to cut right to the heart of the matter and more often than not pithily expose its absurdity.

A Garbled Titantic follows the misadventures of the ‘Titantic’ (“think of the extra ‘t’ as a bulkhead”, the author helpfully suggests) and her crew and passengers. I will admit that when I first read this piece of sheer irreverence, mercilessly sending up many a sacred cow and canonical Titanic literary convention, I feared that the author would be subject to howling accusations of ‘making a mock of sacred things’. I was rather pleasantly surprised to find that this has not been the case - people are capable of discerning the difference between sending up the mythology and sending up the historical event.

After receiving the book last night I couldn’t resist trapping my long-suffering flatmate at the kitchen table and reading her excerpts from the text - the effect of which probably went complete askew, as I was laughing so hard that phrasing came out in fits and starts. From Captain Ebay Myth and his strong views on follicle endowments to Arrol Gantry Lowe’s refusal to save a door.

For those familiar with Molony’s style, be assured that there is the usual high quotient of puns. Think of Spike Milligan’s satires on great English literary works, only this one has the virtue of actually being very, very funny. It hearkens back to one of his previous books, a spoof of Irish history (his re-writing of the Irish Declaration of Independence is another comic gem).

First run is a limited edition of 100 copies, and runs to 100 pages complete with brilliantly selected and garbled photographs. Thermally-bound with a bound sheet of clear plastic, photocopied in high resolution. This will be the only First Edition in any format because, as the author explains, he rather fancies a ‘very scarce’ listing on Michael Tennaro’s Titanic books website.

Cost was US$20 (incl. postage and handling) for the Titanic Mailing List, and I’d have to check what that would be for other readers. If anyone is interested in tracking down a copy they can either email Sen himself, or I’d be happy to pass on messages.

It’s remarkable how prolific this extraordinarily talented writer is - in the same post as A Garbled Titantic I received the latest issue of the Irish Society’s White Star Line Journal which Sen edits. The feature story on the man who took the last known photograph of the Titanic in 1912 is a remarkable piece of research undertaken by Sen. In addition to his other Titanic projects, he’s working on a non-Titanic book he was commissioned to write (in which, so I’ve been assured, the ill-fated Shurgur will play a part).
 

Joshua Gulch

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I've been a long time lurker on the TML, and have been following Senan's "Garbled Titantic" for the past few months, so of course I jumped at the chance to buy the book. For those who haven't read any of it, it's a gem of a work. Brilliant and hilarious! Everything from the Plumperator having a bloated chicken adorning her prow to Second Officer Likedofficer kicking a dog (who also happened to be a Papal spy) off the ship.

It's a wonderful treat!

Josh.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Ing,

Has Senan done a spoof yet on Lucile? Perhaps something akin to "Lady Muff Boredom" or maybe a little "Lady Fluff-Bored 'em" to measure?

Those are the names of actual burlesques of Lucile done in her day, the latter being an act in the 1912 debut edition of Broadway's "Passing Show" revue at the Winter Garden. (The actress portraying her wore a red wig, carried a lorgnette, and lectured on fashion in an absurdly formal English accent. I shudder to think, in light of all she went through that year, what Lucile thought of this! But I think it's a hoot.)

Levity has it place. Especially in a subject so obviously serious and heavy. Senan is brilliant!

Randy
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Josh and Randy -

It's good fun, isn't it, particularly when enhanced with the photos. I've been dipping in and out of it, as it's an incredibly rich text - something you can't quite absorb in just a few sittings. The fecundity of the man's imagination and wit is boundless, and always fresh and original. I also have to admit he absolutely skewered some of the literary approaches that writers have worn to death - the obligatory blaizon of Titanic's fittings, anyone? Certain little facts and quotes that seem to find their way into every book published come in for a particularly thorough walloping.

Randy - there's plenty on the Duff Gordons. The explanation for the five pounds/new kits is particularly good. They fared no worse than Lowe, however, who manages to gun down a few blokes who looked like escaped restaurant staff (I sent that extract to a friend, who has declared that Molony needs to put his talent to writing syndicated humour columns).

Other great scenes include the confrontation between QM Robert Mitchum and Unsympathetic Molly Brawn:

Finally she demanded that Mitchum should assist in the humdrum boatwork of rowing, when he had the important job of keeping an eye out for new sources of pessimism.

Eugene Daly is a riot, and Murdoch loading the Duff Gordons and Ismay (Itsme) into a boat is highly memorable.

~ Ing
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo Kyrila -

I'm at work now, but will email you privately when I get home with the contact details for ordering from Sen and also for signing up with the Titanic Mailing List (TML), administered by Jeff Newman (another Captain Ebay).

~ Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day -

After doing a bit of unsolicited promotional work above, I thought I ought to email Senan and actually ask him how he's dealing with US orders.

You can contact him with queries on [email protected]

The address to write to (or send $20...cash, I believe, not sure if he's accepting other forms of payment yet but will confirm) is

The Glarbed Press
8 Chesterfield Grove,
Castleknock, Dublin 15, Ireland

No postcode necessary.

Reading over lunch about how the Irish came aboard at Queuestown, and the photo of the 'armed crew barrier aft' on p. 68., I'm still chortling.

~ Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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Lord and the 'Mystery Ship' (or 'missed-history ship') get their own section. Expect lampooning of Lord, his officers, the 'Californian' and other ships in the vicinity (or not, as in the case of the 'Son of Sam'). No one escapes - not even Rostron or the Strauses (except perhaps baby Pippa, who makes a cameo in the 'baby boat' no. 13). Should see what the author writes about himself, too...reminded me of that marvelous quote about the fairness of the Irish (they'll take a pot shot at everyone - it's where the Aussies got it from).
 
Oct 13, 2000
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I was originally planning to post my impressions of Senan Molony's 'A Garbled Titantic' mid September, but then the terrible events of September 11th pretty much drove all thoughts of humor into the background. If you are not ready for light hearted fair yet, please pass this message by for now.

Otherwise, here is my review of Molony's brilliant Titanic comedy 'A Garbled Titantic':

Back in the 1950s an author with the improbable name of Robert Manson Myers wrote a parody on the history of English Literature called 'From Beowulf to Virginia Woolf'. It remains to this day one of my favorite humorous works. The humor is very clever, while not being afraid of descending into pure silliness. The book is filled with witty word play and audacious puns.

A sample:
William Shakespeare was the greatest dramatist the world has yet to produce. In extreme youth he settled at Windsor with his eight merry wives, where he remained until 1611, when he removed to Stratford-on-Auburn, more commonly known as the Deserted Village. Shakespeare is famous today for his plays, most of which have, unfortunately, been dramatized. It is little known that Shakespeare never wrote Shakespeare's plays. Actually they were written by another man of the same name.

What Myers did to English literature, a fellow named Senan Baloney does to the story of the Titanic. Baloney tries to hide behind the equally improbable pseudonym of Molony, but we are now all wise to this deception.

Baloney's book, 'A Garbled Titantic' is wickedly funny. I am not prone to fits of guffaws, but there were times when I was reduced to tears I was laughing so hard. Amazingly, the more you know about the story of the Titanic, the more in-jokes you will uncover.

An excerpt from the British investigation:
The eminent judge of the Embarrassing Incidents Court, John Bigwig, Lord Merciless, was chosen as the right man (to lead the investigation). The British ..... had a key acoustical advantage over the Americans: You could not hear a word that was said in the Scottish Kilt Hall.

The first witness called was Titantic lookout Archie Jewell. Br 1. "Are you Archie Jewell?" "May I please ask Mr. Itsme?" (Legal argument).

Baloney parodies everything connected with the Titanic story from the creation of the three great ships through the aftermath, the American & British inquiries and the supposed discovery of the wreck (he has 10 points which prove that was a hoax); even the celebrated Mystery Ship.

There are terrible, terrible puns (the best kind), mangled names and revisionist history. Those who have been reading the initial installments on the Titanic Mail List have not gotten the full story. Not only have they never seen the final chapters, but neither have they had the opportunity to check out some of the cleverly altered photographs peppered through-out the text.

One of my favorites being the classic shot of the newsboy selling the latest news on a London street corner. On the cover of the paper is the banner headline 'Titanic Sunk or Damaged, or Poss(ibly) Just Fine'.

The book itself is twelve by eight, and attractively bound with a stiff card, rear cover and an illustrated, acetate front cover. This initial edition is limited to just 100 copies, each signed by the author. At $20, which includes shipping, this book is a bargain.
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Michael - must pop over to your site to see if Balony now has his coveted 'scarce' listing!

Agreed with all your comments, including the opening statement about humour seeming suddenly misplaced - I was going to put a review of AGT on TML, but as an effect of 11/9 the wind was so knocked out of my sails I had no taste for dipping into any such lush, indulgant frivolity. Sen seemed to feel the same way, and the installments on TML stopped.

Agreed that it bears reading and rereading - it's the sheer, magnificent richness of the humour that's so appealing, and reveals more on each subsequent reading. The absolute audacity of the work is so refreshing.

~ Ing
 
Oct 13, 2000
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Hi Inger,

Senan indeed has received the coveted 'very scarce' rating. but he was even more pleased to see his book listed not just once, but twice, under both Baloney AND Molony.

I was enjoying the book immensely, until September 11th, at which point it lay on my nightstand ignored for several weeks. it was only this past weekend that I finally picked it back up and finished reading it. the book is great fun, and it felt very good to enjoy laughter again.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Kate Bortner

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May 17, 2001
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Mr. "Baloney"'s work cracked me up too. Thanks Senan for such a loving send up of our favorite topic.
-kate.
 
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