Let me get one thing straight up front: Dan Leissner's Cool Cat
is not Pulitzer Prize material, nor one of the contenders for the Nobel
Prize - not for literature anyways.
That said of course, it was never
intended to be, Cool Cat is a piece of nostalgic, exploitative,
trashy pulp fiction of the girls with guns-variety, and it was intended to be just
story is quickly told: Cat, a tough-as-nails yet incredibly hot secret
agent (whom the author helps out of her cloths repeatedly) investigates
the disappearance of several hippie girls somewhere along a desert stretch
of Route 66 - but during her investigations, things get wilder by the
minute as she stumbles over a Texan Colonel with weird theories of white
supremacy, a series of fabricated racial unrests all over the USA, and
finally aliens trying to take over our planet (with the help of our Aryan
Colonel) ... but of course, with the
help of a black and an Asian female agent from her agency, a tough Vietnam
veteran and her hippie uncle, Cat manages to save the world and it all
ends with the suggestion of a big orgy ...
As my synopsis might
suggest, Cool Cat is pretty much vintage exploitation movie
mainstays gone wild, and charmingly so, too, as this book lovingly evokes
the look and feel of the early 1970's - before cellphones and internet and
techno-babble made thrillers a rather boring affair -, but without the
post-modern approach of Quentin Tarantino and his many followers. Dan
Leissner rather recreates 1970's pulp as the enjoyable thing it was back
then, without hindsights and second thoughts and pop culture references -
but much to his credit, he left out the rather disgusting elements of pulp
from back then like latent racism and obvious Commie- and hippie-bashing
anyways without hurting the story.
According to his own
statement, Dan Leissner never saw Cool Cat as much as a book as he
saw it as a film, and thus his style is very pictorial and colourful:
Often he seems to linger on the beautiful body of his female protagonist
simply forever, and he always gives extremely detailed descriptions of the
scenery - in fact he is much more interested in the variety of cool
viontage cars Cat and friends are driving and the weapons they are using
than in their actual characters, and the book seems to be totally devoid
of character development - but all this was intended ...
mentioned above, Cool Cat is not a piece of high literature, it's a
fun nostalgic ride through a world of exploitation long gone by, inspired
by the likes of Russ Meyer and Jack Hill, by movies like Foxy
Brown (1974, Jack Hill) or Savage Sisters (1974, Eddie
Romero) or The Doll Squad (1973, Ted V.Mikels) or
Deadlier Than The Male
(1966, Ralph Thomas) and of course by the men's magazines that were around in
the early 1970's like All Man,
Man’s Action and Man’s Story.
So, is Cool Cat an intelligent book ?
Probably not, but neither is it intended
to be. The book is just what it is, a loving hommage to late 1960's/early
70's trash, and as such it succeeds admirably. If you are into this kind
of thing, you will probably like it, just don't expect John Steinbeck or
By the way, Cool Cat is available from
Baltimore-based Midnight Marquee Press – www.midmar.com.