A few days ago Mrs. MMM Publisher Tammy W. asked me if I’d like to do another review. “Sure,” I told her. She handed me the large white envelope in which I expected to find a motorcycle-related book of one sort or another. Instead, I found a 4-CD album for “Hog Fever, Episodes 1-5.” What?! An audio book? Oh, man… Suddenly my mind is expecting hours of Morgan Freeman or David McCullough, or maybe Peter Coyote. Okay, I’ll give it a shot. I popped the first disc into the car CD player on the way home from work and got about 20 minutes into it. Shutting off the car at home I thought I’d at least finish the first disc before deciding to review it, or not. Over the weekend I listened to the rest of disc 1, then I kept going with the rest of the album (around 45 minutes, each disc) while performing spring maintenance on my bicycles; my motorcycles were already running for the season.
“Hog Fever, Episodes 1-5” is a fictionalized audio adaptation, nay, an ear movie as they call it, of the book “Hog Fever” by Richard La Plante (author of other motorcycle and home construction memoirs, and crime thriller novels, and he is also a musician/songwriter). And ear movie is an accurate description, it’s as though you are watching a movie but not looking at the screen, a toss-back to the days of radio noir. It stars an entire cast, has sound effects, music… everything but video footage. And they do a terrific job of it.
The story concentrates on the midlife-crisis times of Robert Lourdes (played by La Plante), a barely successful American screenwriter living in London (and involved in a bad marriage to a successful British screenwriter who is stealing his ideas), who attempts to emulate “Easy Rider” and “The Wild One” lifestyles to chart a new course for himself as an outlaw biker, while at the same time falling for his wife’s Harley-riding assistant, all of which (and more) we learn about as he tells his tale from the safe confines of his psychiatrist’s couch. Phew.
Lourdes’ psychiatrist, The Shrink, is expertly played by veteran British actor Terence Stamp. The Shrink’s serious yet sometimes deadpan comical persona is the yang to the mildly frantic, sometimes drug-induced yin of Lourdes. As I listened to the Lourdes character, both the voice and the characters of actor/comedian Dennis Leary would keep coming to mind. I’ve enjoyed some of Leary’s work so having this in my head helped me “see” the movie and its characters as I listened.
I had my doubts about this “ear movie” before it started, for two reasons. 1- I’m not into the outlaw biker thing at all. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to be, either.) 2- I didn’t think I’d be able to give it the attention needed to get through it. But as I discovered the characters of Robert Lourdes, The Shrink, and the others, I remained on the hook to continue through the album. I wanted to hear what was going to happen next. Note, this may not be the thing for those with tender ears, it can at times be rather “R-rated”. But it was an entertaining way to spend a few hours of listening time.
This “ear movie” is available for download from www.downpour.com and also in CD format from the usual sources, as is Richard La Plante’s original printed memoir book that was the inspiration for the “Hog Fever, Episodes 1-5” CD album. And actually, reading about his book “Hog Fever” has me thinking maybe I’d like to read it sometime.