Have you ever woken up drunk with no recollection of what you did the night before?
That is exactly how Deshler Dean starts each morning. The exceptional thing about Deshler Dean isn’t his ability to drink anyone under the table but rather his ability to come up with brilliant ideas while blackout drunk.
“Broken Piano For President” is funny and wholly original. Author Patrick Wensink uses a conversational narrative throughout the book that helps readers feel as if they really know the otherwise relatively flat characters.
It’s not that Wensink didn’t flesh out his characters; in fact, they all have strong personalities. The only time the reader really sees the characters is when they are recovering from a night of excess drinking.
Dean and his friends are often confused, awkward, and unaware of what is going on around them. The reader (and the characters) are told of all these amazing things the characters have done while intoxicated, but we never get to see it for ourselves. Wensink manages to leave his readers feeling just as confused and lost as his characters, but somehow it works. Actually, the plot flows surprisingly well.
Wensink never expected “Broken Piano For President” would sell as well as it did. The book jumped to the top of the Amazon.com bestsellers list after Wensink published a cease and desist letter he had receieved from Jack Daniels. The company wanted Wensink to change the book’s cover art because it bore strong resemblance to the Jack Daniels label.
Jack Daniels even went so far as to offer to pay for the change, since “Broken Piano For President” was released by an independent publisher and they knew how expensive it would be to re-release the book. Once the press found out, they had a field day.
The resulting publicity helped turn Broken Piano For President into a bestseller, which may or may not be a good thing.
“Broken Piano For President” definitely isn’t for everyone. The book encourages drinking. The first chapter is nothing more than two paragraphs commanding the reader to go get a drink because Deshler is far too drunk to participate in the story anyway. The book also contains social commentary on corporate greed, consumerism, and politics which may offend some readers. It is a very smart and witty piece of work though. This one is definitely worth checking out.