Book Review: The Legend of Yuckman
Categorized as a superhero fiction, a part of speculative fiction by the author; the story narrated by the author often blurs boundary. A part “social satire”, a part “super-villain” story, a part study of human evolution; The Legend of Yuck-Man begins as a story of exploitation and displacement fostered by greed and augmented by capitalism; however, it soon descends in the story of a man who turns into a demon and perpetrator of crime instead of being a victim.
Commencing as a promising story wherein the author undertakes to narrate “a story of conflicts: between greed and hunger, pollution and purity, belief and science, morality and indulgence, and above all, between a man and his demons”, the story soon descends into an empty and endless harangue. The novel begins with the origin of Yuckman which lies in endless exploitation of poor villagers after the discovery of iron ore exploration and turns into displacement, relocation, child trafficking and ultimate oblivion into poverty and loss into city life which is often portrayed as utopia but turns out to be a place inhabited by “Subhumans”. A place that enthralls and captivates Sibu with “the high rises, the train of vehicles on roads, the enticing women in fashionable attire” also turns him into a monster. In his pursuit of food, he first turns to leftovers, then to puke and finally to shit.
Even though a part of speculative fiction, the superhero fiction is often a combination of fantasy, speculation and reality; however, in the current novel, the author takes the flight of imagination too high and hence, the superhero or anti-hero or super-villain completely escapes the realm of reality. The title of the protagonist often lies in their origins in the superhero fiction; “Yuck” is an expression that is aroused by disgust and filth and hence the chronicle of Yuckman is filled with “Real shit. Pure shit. Deep shit. Literally.” As the author himself puts it, “The biographer wonders: is the reader disgusted enough? Is the reader exclaiming “yuck!” So, the literal aim of the author is to disgust the reader, to exclaim yuck, to consider throwing his book into a dustbin; but towards what end? Using the human excreta as a symbol to shock the reader to understand the societal and moral degeneration fails and the narrative becomes a long and tiring monologue against the evils of the world. There is no social utopia or abatement of evil at the end; if nothing else, the super villain resorts to his old means.
The evolution of Yuck-man is as fantastic as the rest of the book and although, the author tries to justify it as the next stage of evolution; it has no basis in scientific theory, “…He is a mutant. Yuckman is a living biogas plant. He consumes organic wastes and processes them to produce Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Methane (CH4) gases…His skin tissues have mutated into an excretory organ and the sweat-pores on his skin function to excrete excessive gases and acids produced by his body. His nose has developed into a pig nose; it is known to pass off another kind of gas. His torso is abnormally large and cylindrical – my guess is that his digestive system has mutated into the organ in which the fermentation of biodegradable matter takes place. Hence mutation in Yuckman is not singular, but multiple. All individual mutations have come together to produce a biogas-plant-mutant.” The book is filled with such theories but in-spite of all of these theories, the lore of Yuckman remains too far-fetched.
“The Legend of Yuckman” contains too many ideas and the author writes about all of them without any correlation and coherence into a singular plot. The author narrates about the serious issues like displacement, poverty, greed, ill-treatment of women, exploitation of poor, moral degradation of values, corruption, ecology etc. with the same gusto as his theory of evolution, Yuckman’s lust for women, existence of shadow government organizations, political cover-ups, human experimentation, BDSM and therefore, the book turns out to be nothing but one endless tirade towards everyone. There is no clear idea or theme or story-line that lies underneath and the story ends as abruptly as it begins. “The Legend of Yuckman” begins with a promise of good story if nothing else, but fails to entertain even for a while.