Books by Arty Nelson

Released: March 1, 1995

Bikini magazine contributor Nelson debuts with a callow novel that wants to be Douglas Coupland crossed with Martin Amis but comes off more like a rough guide to bohemian sex, drugs, and scatology. Make no mistake, though—Nelson knows excrement; in one particularly harrowing scene, he even gives the Amis of Dead Babies a run for the undisputed Prince of Vile title. But the European adventures of greasy slacker Jimi Banks don't consist entirely of bouts with his bowels. The kid has problems: At 26, he's broke, things have soured with his girlfriend, he's struggling with the death of a close friend, most of his pals are unemployed losers, his digestion is troubled, and he has herpes. Still, beneath the profane carapace throbs a warm heart. Escaping Boston first for gloomy London (where he subsists on hash and booze) and then Paris (where he nearly throttles a kitten), Jimi leeches his way from chum to chum, all the while fumbling with questions of destiny, death, and desire. He's an angst-ridden bum who strains to act carefree, but no existential quandary or expatriate pose occupies him long enough to delay visits to an assortment of hipster shrines, fab apartments, and the loins of slutty rich chicks. ``My life is becoming more of a middle-class postcard every minute,'' Jimi comments after a beery episode in a London pub. It acquires some grim meaning, however, after he returns to the States, takes a job as a lobsterman, and hits lowest-class rock bottom. For about 25 pages, Nelson's on a roll- -Jimi's despair becomes briefly real—but rather than leave his antihero to a prodigal's demise (pelted by carrots outside a restaurant where he used to tend bar), the author packs him off to California for some emotional healing. Piles of pop culture, occasionally funny, but ultimately unsuccessful. Read full book review >