by George Saunders



84pp/$23.95/September 2000

The Very Persistant Gappers of Frip
Cover by Lane Smith

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip is a short fable by George Saunders, copiously illustrated by Lane Smith.  The book tells the story of the small village of Frip, which is plagued by an invasion of gappers.  These creatures, which look like large burrs.  Gappers love goats and show their affection by clinging to the goats' coats.  Unfortunately, they also shriek in joy when they are near goats with the result that the town of Frip is constantly bombarded by screaming gappers and the goats are too nervous to provide milk, the soul export of Frip.

Each day, the children of Frip remove the gappers from their goats and toss the creatures into the ocean.  Each day, the gappers make the arduous journey back to the goats and the cycle is repeated.  Eventually, a gapper marginally smarter than the others realizes that the gappers could simply all congregate on the goats closest to the ocean and save time.

This decision leads to complications in the life of Capable, the girl who lives in that house, and joy among her neighbors who are no longer plagued by the small annoyances.  While Saunders fills the village of Frip with caricatures, rather than characters, he manages to depict human nature quite nicely in the reaction of Bea Romo  and Carol & Sid Ronsen to Capable's dilemma and their own sudden fortune.

Although The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip doesn't really offer any surpises in its depictions or message, it is an enchanting book with several clever illustrations.  It would make an excellent gift for yourself or a friend.

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