Books Not About The Mickey Mouse Club
||When Bikers Meet Humans
Socially Unredeeming Tales of Species in Collision
by J. J. Solari
Cover and interior drawings by Thomas Broersma
Published Dec 2007
398 pages, ISBN 978-0-9800940-3-9
Though newly published, J. J. Solari's collection of eighteen stories, When Bikers Meet Humans, has already been marked for public immolation by a variety of civic-minded groups. JJ writes in the Rabelaisian tradition by way of Charles Bukowski, and if you don't find something to offend you in the first few pages, you're probably reading with your eyes closed.
There's a certain amount of repetition in the storylines, caused by his preference for caricature and coarse humor. He knows his subject matter and market well: the lower middle-class denizens who populate the biker sub-culture he writes about, and the upper middle-class executives and professionals, who wear leather and ride Harley's on weekends, and read his stories between conferences. This is fiction for and about bikers, and it incorporates their outlook and values into its weltanschuang...in other words, don't expect everything to turn out all right.
There is much less violence in this book than you might expect from the cover. You'll certainly encounter fewer human casualties than you would watching any action-oriented film or television show. However, animal lovers be warned, dogs do not fare well here, indeed the title might more appropriately substitute "canines" for "humans". Those of a squeamish or fastidious nature should probably also avoid this book. These stories are awash in body fluids, noxious happenings, blasphemy, casual cruelty, and the sort of language that would cause Larry Flynt to blush.
JJ's formative period of writing came from submitting pieces to Easyriders magazine. These appeared at intervals of a month or more, allowing the occasional reader to develop a taste for them. But JJ doesn't seem to have made allowances for reader overload in a book-length collection of these stories. Reading more than a couple of them back-to-back is the literary equivalent of being locked in a padded cell with a live grenade and no pin.
Make no mistake; JJ is a good writer, its just that he chooses to write about bad stuff. His prose is interesting, and if he spurns true characters for caricatures, its because he knows what his old readership wanted. His biker dialogue is believable, his "humans" much less so, and he has a gift for mordant wit and dry understatement.
"There just ain' t no bedtime stories for biker kids. For, after all, who would write them: bikers? I am very tempted to say, I don't think so. I am not going to go into why. It's just that I don't think so. And its probably a good thing."     --- from Intermission
Though most of the stories are just what they appear to be, some go a little deeper. Black Biker
contains observations on racism among bikers that his usual readership might overlook in favor of the surface bigotry. And the ostensibly non-fiction Home Deliveries
gives a clue to some of the author's personal beliefs that might seem at odds with the events in his stories.
As readers of this website well know, JJ became a Mouseketeer at age twelve in 1956. Being a Mouseketeer is like joining the Mafia: once in, it's forever, even death doesn't release you from the stigma. (Doreen Tracey recently said that after she dies "they'll probably embalm me" and prop her up to greet visitors to Disneyland wearing her Mouseketeer shirt and ears). For most of us, teenage angst is made bearable through adult anonymity: we can always re-invent ourselves by moving to a new city. But when every person in America knows your name and face, there's no easy escape.
For JJ then, writing may be a cathartic as well as commercial experience. (Not to suggest that there's anything autobiographical, or even psychological, here). He writes a story like other guys might go on a drunken binge, embracing excess, spurning sensitivity, and the last thing he wants to do is evoke his reader's sympathies. And like a binge, the climax of his stories is the purge, the spewing forth of obscenity-laden speech, violent actions, and bloody images.
How To Order
Just so we're all clear on this, there's nothing in JJ's book about The Mickey Mouse Club or being a Mouseketeer (though the depiction of parents in some of the writing might provide insight to his psyche). Nor do I recommend this for general readers, kids under eighteen, pregnant women, those with weak stomachs or rigid moral codes, or those who value life in all its infinite variety. Also, if you should buy it, read it, and are either deeply offended or unutterably bored, please don't complain to me about it.
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If the above hasn't discouraged you, and you can afford the $13.13 list price and a couple of dollars for media mail, then JJ's book may be ordered by sending an email to: