Alligator, as its arterisked cover and considerable length indicate, is an elaborate joke about the nine James Bond thrillers which has been concocted by two editors of the Harvard Lampoon, Michael Frith and Christopher Cerf. It is refreshing reminder that 'Poonies can still enjoy themselves and, when they get ahold of a good ideas, make themselves enjoyable. It is not, however,-- and I'm afraid I must underscore this point rather heavy handedly--a parody of Ian Fleming or of his writings.
Which is a good deal of a shame: Ian Fleming is of all ducks floating on the scummy waters of the mindless prose the most sittings--no pulp writer of today has come up with quite his blend of the compulsive will to violence, the animal reference to food and women as the spoils of power, the swinging Birchite outlook on the Cold War, the deliberate abuse of any rational plot line, etc,. etc.
This last item, to their credit, Messrs. Frith and Cerf detected in the corpus of Fleming's work, and they pounce on it, with the highest of spirits and the greatest of glee. J*mes B*nd, their heavily camouflaged fly spy hero, is asked to uncover the hideous doings of one Lacertus Alligator (no asterisks) who plans to hijack the British Houses of Parliament with the Queen and everyone else of any importance inside, float them down the Thames and across the Atlantic, and ingeniously hide them in the Caribbean by spraying them with purple paint. Alligator heads a notorious criminal group which identifies itself as T.O.O.T.H. (it stands for 'The Organization Organized To Hate).
Now all this is very droll--as are the descriptions of the first few of the ever-so-many pseudo-drinks that B*nd is forever ordering from discreetly obsequious waiters and it certainly contains the elements of parody. But this story-line gets lost in the telling, which is every bit as numbering as anything Fleming himself ever churned out. And that is what really troubles me about Alligator: the more one reads of it, the more one is haunted by the awful fear that I*n Fl*m*ng might easily be Ian Fleming himself and not a pair of funloving 'Poonies. Each successive Fleming plot is simply as exaggeration of its predecetaor anyway, and Alligator, with only a very few deletions (like the drinks or the account of B*nd's, phony vintage automobile), and something like a hundred pages of padding, could be marketed as the touch in the series and not as a parody of the first nine.
Is that, perhaps, the point of the whole elaborate joke? 'Poonies pretending to laugh at Fleming while really laughing at an audience which will absorb a flimsy replica as readily as it will absorb the real thing? 'Poonies making money by pretending to destroy a money-maker? The whole structure and meaning of parody begins to crumble, and the poor aid mind reels.