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Mike Nelson's death rat! : a novel by…

Mike Nelson's death rat! : a novel (2003)

by Michael J. Nelson

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1654114,190 (3.38)3
What if an aging, unsuccessful Minnesota author of history books with names like Old von Steuben Had a Farm: The German-American Settlement of the Midwest decided he could write a book every bit as vapid and ridiculous as the books that sold four hundred times more copies than his own? Well, he would write Death Rat, of course, the thrilling tale of a man who battles prejudice, his inner demons, and a cunning six-foot-long rat. And what if he was told by publishers that, at sixty years of age, though his book was a thrilling read, he just didn't look the part of a virile writer of gripping adventure books featuring cunning six-foot-long rats? Well, he would cook up a scheme so outrageous, it would incur the wrath of Gus Bromstad, the beloved author of the homespun Dogwood Downs series of books. And it would stir up the bizarre religious fervor of King Leo, the libidinous funk superstar whose CD "LoveDeathTomorrowJelly" was one of the biggest sellers of the decade. And it would throw him into a strange symbiotic relationship with the entire town of Holey, Minnesota, population 38. Such is the fate of one Pontius Feeb, the hapless author of Death Rat. . . and perhaps the fate of all who attempt to write gripping novels featuring cunning six-foot-long rats.… (more)



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What happens when an aging history writer loses his job and decides to write what he thinks will be a great survival story?


First, nobody wants a thrilling adventure tale from a sixty year old never-was, so he turns to his handsome, virile, young coworker at the burger place as the new “face” of the book, selling it instantly.

From there the book devolves into chaos, funk, pay-offs, crimes and misdemeanors, and the mighty wrath of the popular author they just pushed out of the top selling spot.

I was expecting something very different when I first picked this up years ago. In fact, I was actually expecting more along the lines of what the fictional Death Rat book plot was. I mean, it IS from Mike Nelson of MST3K fame... and there IS a giant rat on the cover.

But still, a fantastic story about the absurdities of life in the tradition of Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. And, thrilling in its own right with a very interesting Prince pastiche thrown into the mix for fun. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Sep 23, 2018 |
Light, often funny, sometimes hilarious read from one of the funniest people I've never met, Michael J. Nelson. I'm a MSTie, but I never got around to checking out Mike's non-movie riffing projects until now. Perhaps because I've watched so much Mystery Science Theater and RiffTrax it felt like Mike was in my head reading his own novel to me. I couldn't separate his voice from his prose. The funniest moments of Death Rat felt like movie riffs - characters make funny observations and clever comments, either through first or third person, about absurd moments or situations in the plot. His use of puns (mostly through book titles written by his hapless protagonist, a failed history book author), although funny at first, gets somewhat old after the first few instances. But isn't that the nature of puns, after all? The premise of the story is rather silly, but it serves as a strangely proper vehicle for Mike's humor. I've heard that Mike found the publishing experience to be very frustrating and rather unenjoyable, but he pulled off a fun read that had me laughing out loud more than a few times. ( )
  NordicT | Nov 2, 2013 |
If you have anything whatsoever to do with publishing, or with Minnesota, do yourself a favour and get this book. You will laugh until you cry.The characters are immensely likeable and relatable, the story is so implausible it hits an Einsteinian warp and becomes utterly believable, and the humour is simply wry, sharp, and non-stop. You can tell who everyone is "supposed" to be, and that just makes it funnier. And if you've ever, EVER tried to write and sell a book, only to be told that you "don't have a platform" or "aren't marketable," do yourself a favour - read Death Rat! ( )
  candlemark | Jul 18, 2011 |
A humorous story of a hapless writer and the ridiculousness that escalates during and after the publishing of his book. ( )
  gyda | Dec 8, 2009 |
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Giving his advancing age and his current stature in the business community, Pontius Feeb knew that it was unseemly for him to be driving giddily through town at midday, whistling and thinking fondly of spit-roasted chicken and buttered fingerling potatoes.
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