“To be free means always leaving… or returning to a place where leaves never fall.” – Rich Shapero
Roger Blake’s ‘Lensfogger’s Best’ is a collection of anecdotes, allegories and short stories centered around a fictional character. The author has created a superhero character in Dodger Lensfogger whose super powers go beyond the ones you will find in comic books and films. He is a photojournalist who reports various stories and phenomenon that are meant to surprise and humor us and, more importantly, make us think. We suspect that Dodger Lensfogger and all his characters embody the many facets and fantasies of the author himself.
From the title to the front cover of the book, there’s nothing that says ordinary or that it’s just another humdrum fictional novel. It’s designed to catch your attention and provide a refreshing break from your preconceived notions of what a book should be. It manages to amuse you and also makes you think while you are at it. It views life from a different perspective, which is perhaps the author’s main intention.
Dodger Lensfogger assumes many identities while appearing in these episodes and often alternates between the first and third person to narrate his stories. Although he is introduced as a superhero, whereby we quickly draw up a caricatured image of a six foot tall hunk in tights in our minds, the very first story shatters any such trepidation and prepares us for the journey ahead.
Dodger connects with the reader as a gentle soul always compelled to do the righteous thing. He is sometimes naïve and oblivious to the realities around him – characteristics that lead him on his strange journeys. It seems like he exists in a different space and time from us, and we the audience are merely a spectator as he hops from one remarkable experience to another. There’s also an air of improbability and oddity about him, perhaps the only things he shares with his cousins from the DC and Marvel universe. Yet there’s something very likeable about him because he presents us with these situations and stories that are relevant and discussion-worthy, making it a contemporary and modern book.
The episodes themselves don’t seem to follow any structural order and are seemingly random in their appearance. But to enjoy the book you needn’t read this book in a conventional cover to cover style either. At first sight there’s nothing binding these stories together, but look closely and you will feel the aspirations and angst of a liberal and rational mind at work behind them. ‘A Thanksgiving for Contemplation’ and ‘Faces’ are a couple of stand-out stories that deserve a special mention here.
One of the main takeaways from a book like ‘Lensfogger’s Best’ has to be the cerebral challenge it throws your way. And like life, there’s a steady mix of happy and sad stories in here to keep you emotionally engaged at all times. This superhero’s main skill is his ability to engage with the audience and that should be reason enough to read more of his adventures.
Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; One edition (May 14, 2015)