Ricky Gervais has won numerous awards for his broadcast work, including six BAFTAs and two Golden Globes for writing, directing and starring in his TV comedy The Office. His recent stand-up tours were sell-outs and received widespread critical acclaim.
Aficionados of BBC's The Office will want to sneak a peek at this quirky debut from Gervais, the series' star. In this catalogue of imaginary monsters, each is more gooey and garish than the last. Neologisms abound; the "flan" prefix could easily apply to the creatures' custardy textures, notably two very similar creatures: the gelatinous Coddleflop (aka "Ovarian Fliphanger") and the squishy Gum Spudlet, both turf green and basically helpless. True to mock-scientific standards, each Flanimal receives a primary and secondary classification as well as an informative caption. Readers learn that the darling pink baby Mernimbler (Gruntling Flumpamorphis) turns into a fanged, homicidal adult the moment someone remarks on its cuteness. The Puddloflaj, resembling an inverted udder, "looks like a useless fat blob" but actually suffers "water retention," and the crablike red Munge Fuddler has boundary issues ("Despite being too mungey for its own good, it persists in fuddling everything it sees"). Gervais divides the glib volume into three sections: a birdwatcher-style "Spotter's Guide," pages on unpleasant "Flanimal Behaviour" and a deadpan quiz-"Flanimal Testing" (Q: "Which Flanimal's babies make the best water bombs?" A: "Puddloflaj"). Steen pictures the Flanimals against spotless white backgrounds, so that their habitats-though not their vicious and sticky-looking confrontations-remain a mystery (save for the Sprine Bloat-Trunker). Gervais's penchant for nonsense words and gratuitous violence could delight Douglas Adams and Monty Python fans. All ages. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.