It's always a bit disconcerting when obscure books by unknown authors have a tone of complete self-assurance. Everything seems to flow so smoothly. Sometimes the reader is puzzled by the goings-on but is carried along by a conviction that the writer knows exactly what he's doing. So it is with Hooper Dooper! The book may just be a skillful light entertainment reflecting a bygone era. Or it may have something more profound to say.
Hooper Dooper! by Fitzhugh Buckner. Barse and Co. (1930), 319 pp.
Three men in their twenties begin what they call “the drinking tour of the West.” They have different goals: the overly imaginative Dune, to meet his long departed mother in Carmel; his best friend Tony, to meet and impress as many new people as possible; and Pharaoh, to find his sister. They have adventures in Tijuana, Hollywood, and Santa Barbara before bringing the tour to an end.
This peculiar book has a strong gay sensibility. Of the three main male characters only the beautiful Tony is sexually attracted to women. Pharaoh has a crush on Dune, who is wrapped up in his friendship with Tony and his relationship with his startlingly sensuous mother. The novel turns serious toward the end but mostly maintains a lightly satirical tone reminiscent of Carl Van Vechten's Spider Boy or Myron Brinig's The Flutter of an Eyelid. Many of the incidents in the story verge on the surrealistic, but the characters are multifacited and well drawn. The breezy writing style relies heavily on conversation, which occasionally includes the exclamation that gives the book its title.