The Count of Monte Cristo, or do I dare say, The Stars My Destination, loosely provides the framework of this entertaining romp of Pynchean scope, with riffs of Bradbury waxing lyrical amid surreal strains of M. John Harrison in which Wendell Apogee undergoes a transformation in his quest to find where Manuel, his lover, has disappeared to after leaving nothing behind but an apartment that is an literal hole in the wall belching flaming pieces of a life onto the next building.
Wendell finds that his lover isn’t who he knows when –through a colorful entourage of lovers, killers, thieves, ex-soldiers, madmen, drug runners, cock fighters, cult members, soccer hooligans, and all in all, simple men and women living large in so many small ways–Manuel’s portrait grows larger than life, until one could get dizzy just peering at its high reaches.
The novel is a kaleidoscope of the near future, where the outlook is no brighter, but humanity consists just the same, in its microscopic nature of day to day living, of people working, living, laughing, loving.
A strange familiarity runs the bassline throughout this story, and the surreality leaps at you when you least expect it. An apocalyptic doom hangs over the proceedings, but instead of dampening this absurd carnival ride, it adds to the jovial madness of being true to one’s self. The honest truth of being alive and completely yourself in a world gone amuck.
I love novels like this, that jump at you from the side when you choose a book randomly off the shelf, and you’re much more entertained than you expect. I hope Brian Francis Slattery writes more, and that they are just as good, if not better, as this book.