Hog Fever is the latest offering from Richard LaPlante. and produced in association with Escargot Books and Downpour.com. Self-described as an “ear-movie”, he has released the five part story (based on his memoir of the same name) as an audiobook.
From his blog we find that he has previously worked as a psychiatric counsellor and has an interest in Harley-Davidson motorcycles, both of which feature heavily in Hog Fever as he attempts to parody the lifestyles and practices.
Ultimately, Hog-Fever is the remarkable story of an unremarkable life, told via our main character’s recollections and discussions in the psychiatrists office (the author plays himself) as he attempts to dramatise his inner monologue.
Imagine Easy Rider written by an averagely successful middle-aged man, cowed by his wife’s successes (Lynda La Plante) and sexually obsessed with motorbikes and you’re in the zone.
From the hyperbolic musical intro (Kevin Godley of 10cc) we are not so much thrown as gently let down into a world which LaPlante wants to be so much edgier and more dangerous than it ever was. His desperation for kudos is apparent in his discussions about his penis, which should have been a throwaway one-liner, but instead gets dragged and stretched until it screams, forming the majority of the first episode. I am not reminded of a burly biker, so much as a sniggering ten year old boy, repeating the word ‘fart’ to crack up his mates – a theme which recurs later as he refers to his dog, whose only sound-effect/ voice is distinctly flatulent.
His(now ex) wife is briefly portrayed as an ice-queen/ refrigerator mother who steals his unpublishable screen-play to make herself a fortune and surrounds herself with yes-men and lackeys, told in a mournful tone but expressing so much hidden bitterness that it’s hard to feel sorry for him. Indeed his desperation to be remarkable and appreciated is the overriding theme of the piece and it is painful to hear. He clearly believes that he is parodying himself and his profession but it is done with a hatchet and the jokes are flatly-told, not so much deadpan as simply dead.
In between the self-pity, there is the French love interest who turns up whenever he is polishing his bike (yes, the metaphors are that obvious). Indeed the majority of his desire is sublimated in motorpsycho sex-fantasies, accompanied by the robotic voice of the bike itself.
Halfway through, he leaves the marital home and buys a motorbike on his wife’s credit card, attempting to make himself sound rebellious but the bad-little-boy angle is frankly pitiful and his obvious comparison between his wife entertaining at The Ivy and his dinner in Hard Rock Cafe, is the stuff that Avril Levigne songs are made of (can I make it any more obvious).
He then takes his stolen bike on a road-trip, in which I desperately cling to the hope that maybe now the “real story” will begin….alas I am treated to yet more penis metaphors, bike polishing and possibly the blandest description of a drink and drug-fuelled weekend that has ever been written and includes a trip to the tattooist to get his first ever ink and hair extensions (because looking like a cut-price Rick Parfit is apparently de rigeur for 40-somethings on the lam).
Somewhere along the way he spontaneously takes a road trip to Spain with some buddies, gets shot in a fight and spends 6 weeks in a coma. He awakens to divorce papers and the conviction that he’s immortal. The final chapter culminates with La Plante in the psychiatrists office, telling him that he has three testicles ( a metaphor for the vast amount of bollocks we’ve just been subjected to perhaps?) which somehow gives him the right to choose his own destiny. This destiny which takes the form of clambering onto the window ledge and threatening to jump because
“I’m a fraud…I’m no-one special…I made the whole thing up because I’m not good enough”
repeated ad nauseam until Billy Idol turns up to his rescue (no, I’ve no idea either) and saves La Plante from certain doom by recognising him as himself instead of mistaking him for Rick Parfit.
The whole thing was funded by Kickstarter, most of which probably contributed to the hiring of Terence Stamp as the psychiatrist and who actually makes something resembling a silk purse from this nonsense (including a short parody of General Zod which is rather awesome). However, it is the only redeeming feature and I would not advise listening to this unless you have a well-developed fetish for cringing.