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Mr. Blankety Blank
Mr. Blankety Blank is not written using conventional narrative structures; rather, it is written using the narrative structures found in dreams. Absurdity and symbolism abound throughout the story and are often times hard to tell apart. At one point a set of minor characters is gruesomely murdered, and yet appears later without explanation. While in any other manner of book this would be a plot hole, Mr. Blankety Blank is so strange that this is barely noticed and in fact may be symbolic.

All main characters are surreal. The first is Rutger Sr. aka Mr. Van Trout, who is a stereotypical suburban father, obsessed with image. The second is Rutger Jr. (the son of Rutger Sr.), who is a stereotypical coming-of-age protagonist, not ready to grow up. There is Troy Cronkite, who along with his unnamed family, climbs the ladder from white trash to yuppie. There is Dr Tenbrook, who dresses up as a superhero called Gamehater and runs arouns enforcing pointless laws and rules. Finally there is the eponymous Serial Killer Mr. Blankety Blank, who has a barber pole for a head.

In line with the dream-like narrative, there are multiple story lines with minimal interaction between them. There are five main storylines and too many trivial storylines to count. The first of these storylines is that of Rutger Jr. collecting shrunken heads given by a friend, whose father often travels and always brings back shrunken heads. Rutger Jr. hides these heads under his bed and they begin multiplying, until he rides them like a wave at the end of the book. This might be symbolic of banal concerns multiplying to dominate peoples lives or it might just be surreal. The second storyline consists of Rutger Sr. transforming his backyard into a farm. Over the course of the narrative he constructs a silo, fills the silo with super-balls, builds a barn and then purchases a cow, then plants a field of artificial grain and then paints everything purple. The third storyline is that of the Gamehater, Mr. Van Trout’s “super-hero” alter ego who goes around the neighborhood enforcing pointless laws, all of which he has made up. He appears to symbolize the utter pointlessness of various homeowners associations. The fourth storyline is the Cronkite family's transformation from interesting white trash to boring workaholic suburbanites. This clearly symbolizes the soul-crushing qualities of capitalism. The fifth, and most important storyline, is that of the predations of Mr. Blankety Blank upon the neighborhood. It appears that this symbolizes the destructive effects of meaninglessness.

Reading Mr. Blankety Blank is like reading a dream. It makes sense while you're reading it, you fear that the details of the plot will fade from your mind upon its completion, and there is a pervasive feeling of a complex symbolism, just out of reach. Perhaps there is no symbolism in this story. Perhaps the lives of the characters do not symbolize banal suburban existence. Perhaps I’m reading patterns where none exist. But, like a dream, who can tell?
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