This is a big, sprawling mess of a book, a mess about drugs, alcohol and rock and roll. About bad decisions and worse behavior. About thought locked in the prison of debilitation and sorrow. About dysfunctional families and desperation.
This book has no elevator pitch. “What is it about?” my sweetie asks. “Ummm. Well, it’s about this guy, and ummm these rock and roll sisters and ummm about a suicide and …..”
It is told in two first person narratives. The first is Lew, a drunk, a druggie, a sex-crazed middle age guy living in Buckeye, Colorado, working as a ‘collector’ cough cough if you get my drift for a shadowy Thursday Man. He is there because his wife threw his butt out of their California house about ten years ago when his behavior deteriorated beyond endurance. The other narrator is a female drummer of The Bastards,which is an all girl rock and roll band that used to be hugely popular. Her name is Sarah. She and her sister Lux come from a bizarre family whose mother is a religious fanatic and whose father has given up and is mostly not there.
They all inhabit a noir world of hyper sex, relentless drinking and continual drug use, where the music is all, and provides a background for their strange and messed up lives. It is all told in language and descriptions which would give your mother the vapors. Hell, it gave ME the vapors a bit, but nonetheless, it is compelling, as train wrecks usually are.
This mess is sticky, like cobwebs, but from time to time, pieces of the characters’ histories come loose and fall to the ground where we can place them side by side, bit by bit, until we see the story behind the chaos that is their lives, and a sad and pitiful thing, it is, too.
Most of the characters are larger than life …. no, I’m wrong. They are ALL larger than life, as they live their small and large and sometimes dangerous lives. The language is at times, brutal, at times ugly, and at times heartbreakingly lyrical.
And you know what this book is? It is a treatise on Existentialism, in the tradition of Sartre and Camus. You know what Existentialism is? It is what you get when you cross Despair with Unrealistic Hope. It is a book in the tradition of Absurdism, and Beckett would have understood it completely and approved.
None of these characters are people you want to know or to have living in your neighborhood, but they are people you feel sorry for as you watch their inevitable spin into ruination.
A difficult read. I loved it.