Friday, October 01, 2004

Pulp Fiction

David Schickler is not your namby-pamby, sensitive, wryly comic author. His prose is lusty, colorful, a punch in the gut.

His characters are vividly drawn, full of intent with a dark side to boot. They are people who see ominous portents in a falling leaf or a white squirrel. They like to have sex and lots of it, in an alley or the backseat of a car, it doesn't matter--it is urgent and it is primal. No kissing when biting and scratching will do.

His books are like southern-fried novels but takes place in big cities. Think of the movies Fried Green Tomatoes or Steel Magnolias but set in New York City or Chicago; people drinking martinis instead of iced tea, then maybe you'll get a sense of his style.

Magic lies just beneath the surface, percolating. There are spells uttered in everyday words. A local bar brews a liquor so potent, it can cure your ails, make you drop dead or grow hair on your balls. I wish I had some to give to my loathsome boss, maybe he'll stop making me lick his armpits—I really don't like his deodorant, it tastes too metallic.

I credit the 'discovery' of David Schickler to my book buddy Annie (don't you wish she had her own blog?), whose taste in books is reliable and true, one of the few people whose book recommendations I take seriously. She had finished an advanced reading copy of the author's first book Kissing in Manhattan and came to me raving, looking like she possibly needed a rabies shot.

I wasn't sure what to expect because the book's blurb only indicated that it was a series of interconnected short stories about people who lived in a certain posh Manhattan building.

I am typically not a fan of short story collections because usually there is only about two or three good stories in them, the rest being just mediocre. Also, when the short story is good, then I always end up wishing that it was a full length novel. But in this one, even though the only connection between the stories is the setting, there is an underlying theme which unified them, like it was all part of one story.

I know, that sounds thin, like a porn video plot, right? Like maybe a mysterious necklace when worn, would make its wearer horny and ready for a gang bang? Trust me, this is much more substantial. There are no stunt cocks here, this is the real thing; turgid and purple and coming right at you.

I did have a huge hardon while reading the story "Checkers and Donna". The character, Checkers, a bruiser with huge biceps and a raunchy mouth made me wish I was Donna, the object of his affection. There is only one false note in this book, in the story "Jacob's Bath". It was awkward and lead-footed, too sudsy for my taste.

The new book is called Sweet and Vicious. It was a surprise gift from Annie, for no special occasion, which I think is the best kind of gift. Birthday gifts and such are fine, but they don't have the same kind of emotional punch as a gift that says "I'm glad we're friends" or "Thanks for being you" or "Chill bitch, it's my turn to rob the bank."

This one is caper story, about Henry Dante*, a strong arm for a big Chicago gangster who was asked to retrieve The Planets from one of the gangter's about-to-double-cross-him henchmen. The Planets are a "glorious, amazing, sell-your-firstborn haul of ice, a seven-stone diamond collection" which a prince gathered from across the globe to give to his sweetheart in 1790, each one cut to resemble the planets discovered by then.

Henry makes a bad move and ends up taking The Planets on the run. On the road, he runs into Grace McGlone, a beautiful redhead working at a car wash. Grace sensed that Henry was her destiny, so she makes a deal with God. If she walks through the car wash, water misters, foamy soap, big brushes and all, and Henry is still there when she gets out on the other side, then she's going with him.

The book is slim and a very quick read. I finished it in three long sessions in the can. I fucking loved it. Love, love, loved it. I cannot wait for another book from this guy--pulp, rind, seeds and all.

*Don't you just love the name "Henry"? I do. It makes me think of my supercrush Henry Rollins (formerly of Black Flag and Rollins Band) who has biceps of death.

Read a short story "Fourth Angry Mouse" from David Schickler

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