The new novel Daisy's Salad Days by poet Mortimer Frempsch is billed as "a magical fairy tale for teen girls of all ages." I discovered the book in the young-adult section of my local bookstore when the inscription "M. Frempsch" caught my eye. I was well familiar with the poet's work — I was the sole literary critic back in the '70s with the wherewithal to review his entire Barbecue Trilogy, three books of poetry: Bugger 'da Landlord 'ya Fecking Twat; Feck Yerself, Miss Marzipan; and the infamous Kill 'da Wimmin' & Sod the Sheep! Thirty years later, the name Frempsch still catches my eye.
What I would have hoped would be obvious is that Frempsch's Salad Says is not fit for young adults of any age. This is a book that makes Naked Lunch look like a Dr. Seuss tale, both in content and in coherence. If one imagines Naked Lunch as a view from inside the throes of deep heroine addiction well before the information revolution, one can grasp Salad Days as a terminal meth trip in the heart of Tokyo, 2007.
It is difficult to review this piece 0f work — yes, that was pejorative — in any real sense. It appears to revolve around a group of rural American ex-pats living in Tokyo, who get it into their heads to create their own meth lab in their cramped high-rise apartment. They succeed in brewing an abundant batch of the drug, but immediately start a conflagration that forces them to flee the building lest they be consumed by the fire. Now homeless and with more meth than they know what to do with, they reason that they'll be caught for sure and done for murder, since two of their mates died in the fire, so they might as well go out with a bang.
From there the story dissolves into a frenzy of crime, sex, and drugs involving all manner of objects, animals, and people. Surely fueled by Frempsch's well-known and highly-publicized amphetamine psychosis — his friends and family report that his habits haven't changed since his infamous appearance on Laugh-in, and his doctor has personally speculated to me that Frempsch long ago made his deal with the Devil — Salad Days pushes to break every taboo imaginable, and it does so in the most graphic, explicit, and brutal ways conceivable. This 1,243-page magnum opus of filth contains no introspection, no philosophy, and little description of anything other than the deeper depths of degradation that each consecutive sentence can bring. In that regard, Frempsch's Daisy's Salad Days is truly a masterpiece: a tour de force that makes even the infamous film Flower of Flesh and Blood look like an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.
In the end, Daisy's Salad Days is a sick and twisted work from a sick and twisted mind. It's only redeeming quality is it's unflinching embrace of the worst there is. For those who find such work to have literary merit, then this book will be sure to please. But what is true regardless of one's taste is that this book does not belong in the young-adult section of your local bookstore.
I strongly suggest parents and adults of character go immediately to your bookstore and ask for this volume to be properly shelved.