I am a huge fan of Fluke by David Elliott and Bart Hopkins, so I was intrigued to check out Cherokee Spleen, written by Elliott. The book is a bit of a mind trip, but in a good way. Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
"When you’ve had four near-death experiences, you have to wonder who’s screwing up: you or God. Step inside the mind of Andy Penny, underachieving 40-year old Florida trailer park resident, perpetual dead-end employee, and uninterested survivor. Revel in Andy’s existence as he uses his near-death experiences as small talk but never truly wonders why he’s still alive. Then, watch through Andy’s inebriated eyes as he sees an episode of Cops filmed in Des Moines, Iowa. Feel the complete and total shock as Andy realizes the meth-addicted domestic abuse victim he’s watching is none other than Allyson Price – his “it girl.” His one that got away. His one true love, Allyson, who disappeared from his life suddenly and completely one night a dozen years earlier, a night Andy was run over by a car.
Commiserate with Andy as a wave of introspection nearly drowns him, and he comes to the realization that maybe he hasn’t been just not dying. Feel the epiphany when it occurs to him that maybe he’s been kept alive – for a purpose. Steel yourself with Andy’s resolve as he enlists the help of his fiery neighbor Rudy to embark upon a crusade to fulfill this newfound purpose: saving Allyson Price from her squalid existence. Ride along on the journey north, armed with white trash courage, random fortune cookies, Rudy’s unorthodox means of providing for them, and the gearshift from a '95 Jeep Wrangler. Keep yourself focused as events get increasingly ominous and surreal along the way, and, whatever you do, hold on tight as Andy’s story culminates in some dumpy trailer somewhere. And don’t forget: nobody ever listens.
Part black comedy, part psychological thriller, Cherokee Spleen is a fast-paced, darkly humorous story of one barely-alive slacker’s search for purpose in a world where there seems to be none."
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): 4 out of 5 stars.
It's a mind trip. And totally refreshing. I love it.
Here's why I liked it:
- The main character, Andy, is kind of a douche. But for some reason, that's really refreshing to me. Jerks can be protagonists, too, right? He has had some near-death experiences, which have totally messed him up mentally and physically. He has a girlfriend, but doesn't really love her. He hangs out with his neighbor, Rudy, and gets trashed all the time. And then he sees this episode of COPS featuring Allyson, the girl who got away. And it changes everything for him. She's fallen on hard times, to say the least, and he is on a mission to rescue her.
- The story is kind of trippy, featuring dreams and bad omens and fortune cookies, etc. But I love it, I think it adds to the mystery of the book.
- Rudy is also a douche. But he cares about Andy in his own way, which is kind of sweet. He's that guy we all know who's always trolling for chicks and much too comfortable with the pharmaceuticals.
- THE ENDING. I can't even, you guys. It's amazing and little mind-blowing. I can't tell you, or it will be a huge spoiler. But it's one of those endings that you will either completely love or completely hate. And I freaking loved it. It's the perfect ending to this mind trip of a story. It leaves you saying, "Holy crap! What just happened?????" Go read it!
- "How do we get to these places? These places we can't get out of, away from. These places that won't let you go, even if you tried. One minute, you're bounding upward, the next, you're buried. Life does some pretty serious shit to people, indeed."
- "Is there a bigger picture here that I'm just too dense to see? If so, how long has it been there, me, just too lazy to examine it? Is there something bigger at work here?"
- "Just want a job where I don't have to do anything but still get paid. Too much to ask for in this life."
- And my personal favorite: "Don't let things happen to you and then wonder why. Make things happen for you."
What have you read lately?