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4.2 out of 5 stars
Daddy's Cap Is on Backwards
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change

on February 11, 2013
The description "Great American Novel" has been bandied about for years. Tom Wolfe's 'A Man In Full' aspired to it roughly a decade ago. Papa Fitz's 'The Great Gatsby' may be as close as anyone had ever come.

Until now.

Bil Keane's seminal work 'Daddy's Cap is on Backwards' makes 'Gatsby' look like a collection of 'Heathcliff' comic panels.

Undeniably great. Distinctively American. And yet, to call it a novel would be to place it in the proverbial box. Keane doesn't just defy conventional labels, he obliterates them.

Achingly poetic, reminiscent of (while greatly surpassing) early Bukowski, 'Cap' takes the dreams, fears, supressed memories, fleeting moments of triumph...I could go on for hours. As I re-read each transcendent page, fresh tears fall on my keyboard like the slow-motion revelation of Jeffy falling off his skateboard.

Suffice to say, Keane's masterpiece will continue to impact the lives of every American. I can honestly say without hyperbole, this book will change the way the political process works...while wiping out our national debt, improving our standing in the new global culture, and restoring each of us back to physical, emotional, and mental excellence.

Thank you, Bil Keane. This daddy's cap is now also, forever, on backwards.
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on June 21, 2011
I'd like to thank Bil Keane for teaching me that my deceased grandparents are around me at all times. I now wear pants in the shower.
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on May 5, 2011
Such a wonderful surprise seeing this back in print!! Brimming with the always poignant, rarely stagnant ripostes of the Circus family, "Daddy's Cap Is on Backwards" offers stanza after stanza of Twitteresque humor (and has been doing it long before there even was a Twitter, I tell you!)

I find this to be one of Master Keane's best titles, and was heartbroken when Fawcett Publishing let the edition lapse into misprint. Fortunately, when I was in Kingston-Upon-Thames for the Millennial, I was able to spot the UK version ("Father's Trilby Is in Arrears"), which indeed helped me through the rather difficult times of twenty-aught-one to aught-nine. Which brings me to the point of this essay. Daddy's Cap is precisely the kind of exquisitely fluffy, soul-hoisting epistle mankind requires today -- it is nothing short of a guide manual for human decency in this post-bin-laden world.

Daddy's Cap IS on backwards, I say...and may it never be right-faced!
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on September 12, 2010
In his modern classic "Daddy's Cap is on Backwards", Keane finally answers the question that has plagued his cartoon family for decades. At last we see his vision of what shall become of the post 50s nuclear family when at last it is proven that God has forsaken man to a cold and lonely eternity. And what a horrifying and terrible vision it truly is.

Now a few years past his heart-crushing Nietzscheian trip into the void of his soul, Billy returns to discover his family radically changed. Like broken marionettes, his parents walk about in a grey-faced fog, searching for meaning in their empty lives. In a poignant scene, Billy finds little PJ gazing into a 2am television screen, his eyes filled with tears, crying "please, please come back and talk to me, I'm no one when you're not here!"

But the vacuous ghosts of his progenitors and younger sibling are dwarfed by the rage of Billy's elder sister, Dolly. Filled with hate and loathing for a modern world without meaning and beyond her control, she has embraced a rabid, radical form of socio-religious fascism. With a terrifying cold fury and savage ruthlessness, Dolly's National Fourth Grade Christian Front rises to dominate the nameless suburban wasteland that Keane's cartoon family inhabit. As literature, teachers, neighbors and even Barky the dog are all cast into the bonfires in nightly Gestapo raids, their deaths blamed on the mythical villains "Not Me" and "Ida Know".

In a painful moment that lays bare her Electra complex in a scene of macabre and bitter truth, Dolly commands her father, now reduced to a hollow man, to throw her very mother into the arms of a rampaging angry mob. Over the sound of her dying screams, Dolly reassures her father that the murder of her mother shall free him from his destiny as a captive consumer and wage slave in a prison of his own making. Her lies convince neither of them, but they underline the reversal of their parent/child roles and make father Bill's tears all the more stark as the last remnant of his soul dies with his wife in the madness of the crowd.

Ultimately, alone in a world inhabited only by fear, shame, terror and the vacant-eyed armies of his sister, Billy is forced to choose between embracing Dolly's genocidal Armageddon-like vision and flinging himself into the flames of an all-too-common neighborhood bonfire. And as the flames and banners rise higher and higher, there are few that can disagree with his choice.

Yes Mr. Keane, Daddy's Cap is indeed on Backwards.
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on December 20, 2007
I found this book at a bus stop on Highway 41 in Central Florida. It was next to a Jack Chick comic. After reading the Jack Chick book and having the wits scared out of me about the Apocalypse and that Nazis were actually Catholics working for the Pope, who turns out to be the devil, I took great comfort in reading the Family Circus. Just as I picked up the book, the bus came and I eagerly got on. So far my luck was turning for the better.

As I read the Family Circus and the hilarious adventures of Billy, Dolly, PJ, and the unforgetable Barfy the Dog, I began to notice something. Thel is a mega-babe. Look at those long legs! Look an that rack! Look at that flat stomach after squeezing out four puppies, look at that high tight butt! What is she doing with this loser who can't even wear a ball cap!

When I finally got home and I called my girlfriend and asked her to come over. I showed her this wonderful book and I asked her if she could do her hair like Thel. My girlfriend has long blond hair that I thought I really liked, but now all I wanted was a brunette who could shape her hair like a helmet with 'Pit and Pendulum' axes dangling from the bottom.

Long story short, my girlfriend broke up with me when I insisted on calling her Thel. She wasn't worth it anyway. I am now on a quest for a hot mama that looks like Family Circus Thel. If you are a hot 6 foot tall chick with a pointed nose, no forehead, helmet hair, and a hot bod, please shoot me an email. We can have a long happy life of making cartoons together.
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on March 10, 2003
It is always possible to (forgive the pun) read too much into any book. I believe Mr. Keane is attempting to poke fun at the fashion of wearing one's ball cap with the bill at the rear. In the traditional sense, this is, in fact, the "wrong" or "backward" way to wear such a cap. The children have become so accustomed to this convention that now it seems to them that Daddy's cap is being worn "wrongly" or "backwardly," when in point of fact, it is being worn "correctly" or "forwardly." Of course, from this perspective, the whole scenario comes off as an hilarious commentary on our society.
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on December 2, 1999
Although he will probably forever be denied the Nobel Prize
because of the radio broadcasts he made during the late war on
behalf of the government in Rome, Bil Keane is certainly one
writer who has nothing to prove. Having already taken his
place among the company of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and
Dostoyevsky, with the publication of "Daddy's Cap Is On
Backwards" Bil Keane now emerges as the master of them all.
The storyline is deceptively simple: after Thel dies in a freak
accident, Daddy abandons PJ, Jeffie, and Little Billy to take
Dolly on a meandering automobile tour across America,
culminating in the loss of Dolly, and the emergence -- too
late -- of Daddy's ability to love. But God, as Keane has long
demonstrated in his other works, is in the details, and in the
intricate and masterfully coordinated layer upon layer of
innuendo and hidden meanings. The title itself, on its face,
refers only to Dolly's innocent, even endearing, observation
that her father, unlike all the other men in her neighborhood,
lacks a prepuce. But the true significance of Daddy's "cap" is
slowly revealed, chapter by chapter, and even at the end of the
book one is left wondering whether other layers of meaning
remain, beyond the reader's grasp. The turning point of the
narrative is the episode where Jeffy sells his soul to
Mephistopheles for power and knowledge, yet this can be fully
understood only in contrast to the many events that precede and
follow it -- such as the haunting scene where little Billy
carries his father out of the burning city on his shoulders, or
the passage where PJ, now the viceroy of Egypt, reveals himself
to his brothers as the boy whom they sold into servitude years
before. Nothing can compare, however, to the episode where
Jeffy hurls his harpoon at the great white whale, it fails to
meet its mark, and is reclaimed by the Rhine-maidens as it
descends into the waters, while flames from the untended
hilltop fire engulf the island paradise, tossing a firebrand
onto the raft where little Billy and the runaway slave are
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on November 2, 1999
"Daddy's Cap" is a wonderful compendium of cartoon humor akin to the Thurberian great American tradition. An epic narrative of male bonding in easy cartoon form, "Daddy's Cap" has replaced Robert Bly's "Iron John" as my son's favorite reading. Secret signs, indeed!
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on September 17, 1999
I just got the Internet, so here goes!! First of all, one of my few daily joys is my morning visit to the Circus of Family (HA!!) I wake each morning and eagerly make a pot of coffee and scan the Family Circus, soaking up all the delightful true as life humor. It's one of the few things I consistently look foward to anymore, what with the house getting more and more empty. I'm feeling more and more like Grandma, peering down from heaven!! Second of all, when I heard Family Circus man had written a whole book I ran instantly out to the mall and bought a copy for my home. It's a wonderful book, I can open it at any time and feel like I'm in my silent kitchen early in the morning all alone with my decaffeinated ground coffee. It gives me a great amount of solace and always manages to bring a slight smile to my face. Bil, when you read this, thanks a lot for everything! I don't know what I'd do in the mornings with out your clever insights!!
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