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Get a Load of Ethel Fae

Maybe life is not a box of chocolates, but a series of eggs you keep laying, full of bicycle wheels and 1937 cathedral radios that you are forced to make sense of. In Starlight Goes to Town, those and a bunch of other seemingly random bric-a-brac are presumed to be the consequence of one chicken’s fairy godmother falling asleep at the switch, though in fact she’s retiring – for a round-the-world vacation cruise – leaving her “harebrained hobbledehoy” of a nephew in charge, and I think that’s about the right picture of fate. Or you could go back to your chocolates, I guess, even though never knowing what you’re gonna get out of life doesn’t represent half the drama of figuring out where it’s supposed to deposit you, which was kind of the point of that movie when you think about it.

And it’s kind of the point of Starlight, believe it or not, though it may take you a couple of readings to sort it all out. On the face of it, this is otherwise a pretty anarchical romp. The eponymous chicken (real name: Ethel Fae Klucksworth) dreams of a modeling career in Milan and does not silently suffer the derision of her fellow bunkmates in Farmer Brown’s henhouse. “So long girls,” she rousingly declares, motoring away in the shiny red convertible that is the first of her fairy godmother’s egg-encased gifts, “If I never see you again, it will be too soon.”

Yes, Starlight’s got pluck and irreverence in equal measure. Later, when her fashion career doesn’t go quite as she envisioned it, she has an explanation: “Sheesh. These people are too dumb to recognize a truly great and beautiful chicken model when they see one.” It’s one thing to dream big, another to know when to move on, but this doesn’t need to constitute a surrender. Starlight ends up in Connecticut of all places after that bungling hobbledehoy takes charge of her prospects – but does he really? Amid piles of dubious clutter which Starlight keeps hatching and hoarding – old highchairs and handsaws, suitcases and cash registers and toy helicopters – there’s a hand-painted sign in the bend of this road which sure as heck points to a sequel:

“If you don’t see what you want,




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