Friday, June 03, 2005

The Pistol Poets, Victor Gischler

Victor Gischler's second novel reminds me in some ways of the work of Carl Hiaasen. It's the same kind of darkly humorous tale, with a wickedly sharpened satirical point to it. The target that Gischler skewers--small-college academia and the scruffy intellectual losers and posers that inhabit it--is a smaller target than Hiaasen's Florida land-rape culture, but it's still a fat and juicy one.
Harold Jenks, small-time urban drug dealer on the way up, decides to ditch the life of crime and make off with the identity of Sherman Ellis, a young, hopeful inner-city kid with a scholarship to Eastern Oklahoma University. Sherman won't be missing said identity, because he's just been killed in a robbery by Jenks' dimwitted associate Spoon. Unfortunately for Jenks (and Spoon), he also decides to make off with a bag full of cocaine belonging to their boss, Red Zach. After all, a college student's gotta make ends meet somehow.
Meanwhile, visiting EOU perfesser Jay Morgan has problems of his own, namely a coed dead of a drug overdose in his bedroom. He'd like to keep it quiet, but this bizarre old man with a mysterious past and a notebook full of gritty (and really good) poetry has suddenly appeared in his living room, along with his loyal henchman and another coed who may actually be batshit crazy. Throw in a sleazy PI looking for the dead girl, a pair of feuding professors, two students in way over their heads, and a small town redneck drug pusher hoping to score big. Mix with Harold Jenks and his troubles. Sit back and watch the fun.
It's not a perfect book; the PI character goes from Sleazy Loser to Evil Bastard a little too quickly for me to buy, and Gischler himself slyly acknowledges a bit of deus ex machina near the end. But the book's huge fun to read, and I'm really looking forward to getting Suicide Squeeze, the next Gischler book...which, from the excerpt at the end of the paperback Pistol Poets, appears to target yet another entirely different and absurd world, that of big time sports memorabilia. The man do be versatile.

1 comment:

Mystery Dawg said...

All three of Gischler's books rock. YEah, at times the humor is twisted, but they are all great fun.