“Gilligan’s Wake” is constructed in seven chapters, each one devoted to a different character. Despite the title, Tom Carson’s book is not constructed in an abstract, circular fashion like James Joyce’s original. Each chapter is, however, a style parody of an extant work of literature. The Gilligan chapter, for instance, emulates the stream-of-consciousness style of Thomas Pynchon’s nuclear freakout “Gravity’s Rainbow.” The Gilligan chapter will also reveal that the “Island” characters all exist in a web-like fictional universe that intersects with multiple other 1960s sitcoms. 

Gilligan, for instance, has disassociated and believes he is actually a man named Maynard G. Krebs (the character Bob Denver played on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” in 1959). Krebs is knocked unconscious while protesting in San Francisco and is revived by Dr. Kildare F. Troop (a reference to the shows “Dr. Kildare” and “F Troop”). Dr. Troop tells him that his real name is not Krebs but … well, something else. The story ends with Krebs undergoing shock therapy. 

The Skipper, it is revealed, served on a PT Boat during the Pacific War, serving with both Quinton McHale (from “McHale’s Navy”) and a young JFK. While lost at sea on a side-mission, the Skipper’s ship’s engine becomes tangled up with … well, something one might find in an episode of “Tales from the Crypt.” 

Mr. Howell, meanwhile, clashes with his son over their growing Communist sentiment in the early 1960s. Mr. Howell was friends with the real-life Alger Hiss, and has grown despondent over the state of his marriage. Mrs. Howell has had affairs behind his back. Mrs. Howell grew up in the jazz age, wealthy, and unable to form healthy relationships. She used to do morphine with Daisy Buchanan (from “The Great Gatsby”) and the two became lovers.

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