Title: Scrudge & Barley, Inc.
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: I found this story to be just brilliant.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.
When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?
What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.
And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.
Review: Such a well-known story—that of Scrooge and his miserly life, which is interrupted by three ghostly apparitions one lonely Christmas eve. It’s a classic tale that is performed and read every holiday season. Imagine my delight when I heard that author John Inman had re-imagined the old tale and given it new life, a clever twist that morphed into an amazing story called Scrudge & Barley, Inc.
E.B. Scrudge is a nasty man. Having learned from his predecessor, Barley, Ebbie has taken to the love of money and the glee of inflicting misery on others with gusto. He has no regard for his fellow man and unashamedly uses his faithful secretary, Willie, for occasional physical release. This Christmas Eve finds Ebbie handing out his special brand of Christmas cheer in the guise of termination notices delivered by poor Willie. Once done, he ignores the small gift his secretary has for him, uses him for sex and then sends him on his way without a backward glance. After attending the ballet, Ebbie returns home to his penthouse apartment, and a night of terror, revelation and soul searching begins. By morning, E.B. Scrudge will be a changed man—but will it be too late to undo all the harm he has done and prove to Willie he does have a heart after all?
If you have never read Dickens’ version of Scrooge, then this brilliant and campy version may not mean quite as much to you, dear reader, but trust me when I tell you this piece of work was so cleverly done. Not only are the three “ghosts” who visit Ebbie simultaneously terrifying and amusing, the build up to the visits, the eerie setup with lights going off and noises rattling the night, are rather scary to read. But it is the transformation in Ebbie himself that is so genuinely played out as the hours race by—this is the real beauty of the story. Far beyond a truly delightful retelling of an old classic, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. explores the place in each of us that allows for that bit of selfishness to grow. How many times have we passed the homeless and thought they could find work if they truly tried? Or perhaps remarked that it is not “our responsibility” to save everyone? Just these few scenes—and the uncanny voice of the narrator reminding us that we too may see a bit of “Scrudge” in the mirror is enough to realize that lurking behind this simple Christmas fare is a deeper message: hold on to your humanity at all costs lest you find yourself a scrooge as well.
I found this story to be just brilliant. I enjoyed the careful way this author reworked a somewhat tired and overused story and made it relevant and entertaining again. Not only that, I loved that Willie was not a carpet for Ebbie to walk over but more a compassionate and loving man who faced his difficult life head on and knew his own mind. Scrudge & Barley, Inc. is a fantasy wrapped in love and a touch of whimsy. If you are looking for a fresh and well-written holiday story, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. will fill that ticket nicely. I highly recommend this one to you!
You can buy Scrudge & Barley, Inc. here: