Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ – Mendal W. Johnson
Golden Apple Books – 1984 (Originally published 1974)
I read Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ because I wanted to write a post on the Valancourt Paperbacks From Hell reissues. I knew full well what this book was about, and other than a morbid curiosity, I had no desire to read it. I got through half of it in one evening and then decided that I wasn’t going to finish it. I read the second half when I woke up the next morning. I wasn’t surprised by anything, but I was disturbed. None of the seedy literature I’ve read compares to the pain of this book. It’s 290 pages of anguish.
The story of Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ publication, scarcity, author, reputation and its effects on its readers are all part and parcel of its infamy. Bloggers were pouring their souls out about this one long before I got the internet. The level of research and detail that has gone into some of the posts about this book puts my blog to shame. Some of those posts contain spoilers, but the plot of this novel is hardly complicated, and if you don’t already know what the book is about, I would actually suggest you read a plot summary before starting it. This book is definitely not for everyone.
I certainly didn’t enjoy Let’s Go Play at the Adams’, but I can’t deny that it was well written, and despite how utterly horrible it is, I wasn’t able to bring myself to not finish it. I don’t know how Mendal W. Johnson was able to maintain his focus on suffering for however long it took him to finish this novel. With all due respect, I can’t say I was surprised to find out that he drank himself to death within 2 years of finishing it.
Reader beware: you’re in for a horribly pessimistic journey of agonizing misery and abject bleakness.
2 thoughts on “Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ – Mendal W. Johnson”
This is the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. I read it last summer and it stayed with me for weeks, more than almost anything I’ve ever read. I read Ketchum’s “The GIrl Next Door” when I was a teen and while it’s based on similar sources and has a similar aim as this one (and is even more graphic) it didn’t haunt me like this one did. It’s hard to argue with how well it’s written, though. And it never feels exploitative. It’s a deeply sad, disturbing book.
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The last few paragraphs are literally stomach churning. Yeah, it stuck with me too.