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Roger Fishbite: A Novel Hardcover – March 16, 1999

3.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lucky Linderhof, a 12-year-old latter-day Lolita born of the privileged sperm club, lives in New York with her affectionate but ineffectual mother, a woman who changes her lovers as quickly as she changes her designer clothes. Abandoned by her father, Lucky seeks a symbolic replacement among her mother's boyfriends--but when the piranha lodger Roger Fishbite moves in, she ends up with a father figure who becomes a lover. Funny and surreal, Roger Fishbite has the stylistic atmosphere of Angela Carter in Disneyland for the millennium. Emily Prager's third novel develops into a satirical, nightmarish adventure, and along the way a hilarious parody of American consumerism from a child's point of view. As Fishbite drags Lucky from one seamy motel to another, her prepubescent sexual fantasies give way to the brittle survival instincts of the abused child. Prager has modernized Nabokov's original by giving her child heroine a voice:
Was I in love with Fishbite? Sometimes, when the light hit his shoulder blade in a certain way, or he made a game of chasing me down one of the empty corridors or at a mall when he was paying at the register, I could forget the iniquity and a wave of warmth would rush over me and I'd have to kiss him.... But that was apart from the sex, you see, which was in a box somewhere off by itself.
Lucky is as sassy as "Fishy" is disgusting, and her final revenge is a discordant symphony of mayhem and murder, her story reflecting "the real pain of moral children forced to live under morally indifferent grown-ups." --Rachel Holmes

Review

Here Prager has captured an essential truth of childhood... -- The New York Times Book Review, Andrea Higbie

It takes a very good writer to translate such creepy stuff into richly comic story-telling. To quote Nabokov, which Prager slyly does from time to time, "Beauty plus pity--that is the closest we can get to a definition of art." Prager comes pretty close. -- The London Times, Penny Perrick, January 30, 1998
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (March 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679410538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679410539
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,665,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Prager modernizes LOLITA and rewrites it from the nymphet's perspective. The heroine is a joy to "listen" to and gives a very funny story with serious overtones that develop later on. Kudos to the author for tackling child sexuality with maturity and avoiding a 90's reactionary attitude. I think this novel will appeal to fans of Amanda Filipacchi who took on a similar subject in NUDE MEN. While not as riotous (or as heartbreaking) as that novel, it is still affecting and memorable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the book, Roger seduces Lucky, his pre-teen step-daughter, until she finds out about his even "darker" side.

The Author Note in the novel states: This novel is in part a literary parody of that great work Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. It is my reply both to the book and the icon that the character Lolita has become.

Prager may have given an appropriate example of an ephebophile in the novel. She wrote, "No, this man [ephebophile] is a special man, a man for whom a Catholic school uniform, even on a mannequin, does more than a whole album of grown-up nudes." That may be an hyperbole, but it's closer than further from the truth.

Roger may have non-verbally expressed his attraction for Lucky, but she made the first physical move when she, "... leaped up and kissed him square on the mouth." She kissed him for dresses, gave him hugs for CDs, and performed oral sex for jewelry. However, Lucky repeatedly teased Roger when he wanted to make love. "Lose my virginity to you? What's in it for me?" Lucky asked. But when Lucky read in Roger's journal that he made love to Evie a, "...hot as a pistol," 11-year-old model, who he was shocked wasn't a virgin, Lucky was livid with jealousy and took matters into her own hands.

It's quick fun read that you'll probably enjoy if you're a LOLITA fan.

The Allure of Nymphets
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Format: Hardcover
In the original Lolita the heroine appears to be very innocent and possibly suffering from a Stockholm Syndrome. Prager`s Lucky on the other hand is cynical worldly wise and not nearly so blinded to Fishbite`s evil. It seems hard to believe that a confident, sassy, cynical modern girl like Lucky wouldn't have tried to get help somehow. Or try to escape. This book didn't ring true to me at all
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Format: Hardcover
Ugh. Roger Fishbite left me feeling cheap and used. I can't fathom how in the world this recent wave of authors (Praeger, Pia Pera, etc.) could have such hubris as to ape/parody Nabakov's masterpiece "Lolita". I imagine that they would argue that they're giving voice to the voiceless nymphet. But really, after reading several of these novels, in portraying Lucky, Lo, etc. as such charmless little harpies, I can honestly say they sure aren't doing the girls any favors.
Praeger is obviously a talented, funny and clever writer, but this was a ridiculous project. I hope to read something else of hers wherein she has not hitched her wagon to someone else's star as she has here with Nabakov.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
_Roger Fishbite_ tries, and fails, to recreate _Lolita_ from the child's point of view. It fails, in my opinion, because only the absolute genius of Nabokov can make this genuinely repellent subject matter appealling. Prager is certainly a good writer, but her protagonist speaks with the voice of a mildly unappealing teenage girl. In the end this book fails to maintain the balance between comedy and tragedy that Nabokov so artfully maintains, and _Roger Fishbite_ plunges into the realm of bathos. This is the stuff of which Jon-Benet Ramsey was made.
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