Daniel Pinkwater's Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl is the sequel to his Neddiad (a gonzo take on the Iliad starring Neddie, a boy who moves to 1950s Los Angeles, eats in the Brown Derby, attends military school, befriends shamans, eats fried foods, and saves the world from the Elder Gods) and Ygyssey (The Odyssey, starring a tomboyish legacy of a rootin-tootin' silent film cowboy who travels to a parallel dimension, enervates a witch, discovers the secret revels of Los Angeles's ghosts, is put-off by hippie food and fells a corrupt dictatorship).
The eponymous Cat-Whiskered Girl is Big Audrey, whom Yggy met in the parallel dimension/underworld where the climax of The Ygyssey takes place. Big Audrey returns to LA with Yggy and the gang, works in a donut store, but finds herself lured away on a vision quest with Marlon Brando, who drives her to Poughkeepsie in a convertible stuffed with health food and chocolate cakes. Once in Poughkeepsie, Audrey ends up working in a UFO-nut bookstore, and befriends many local characters, including the crazy people from the sanatorium who visit on day-passes.
It's these crazy people who put Audrey on the trail of the inexplicable Wednesday-night UFOs that land outside the big stone barn where the best apple fritters in the galaxy are prepared by the proprietress, Clarinda Quakenboss. This (naturally) leads them to Chicken Nancy, the local wise-woman, who is so old she remembers when the disappearing house behind the stone barn was occupied by local Dutch aristos, who made their fortune selling the Van Vreemdeling Kwispedoor, a bestselling spittoon (she also remembers when Abe Lincoln invented the idea of putting cream cheese and lox on bagels).
Audrey and her crazy pal Molly (who is part Dutch leprechaun) are set on a quest by Chicken Nancy, through which they discover their hidden talents (Molly, for example can summon forth the fierce bloodthirsty demons within every Christmas tree). They are assisted by a Pinkwaterian cast of characters, such as Harold, a tiny, well-spoken giant with a degree in Classical Accountancy from Vassar. Before long, they're dimension-hopping again, beset by corrupt coppers, mysterious cherubs, and a truly awful secret society.
Daniel Pinkwater is the best, weirdest, most inspiring writer in the
field today. Watching him do bizarro is like watching Fred Astaire
dance: jaw-dropping magic that appears effortless and natural.
Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl is full of places I want to go,
secret societies I want to join, people I want to meet, and fried foods
I want to gorge upon. This book will make you a very happy mutant indeed.
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