VAN GOGH’S EAR by David Nash


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Two brothers leave Utah for Los Angeles, where they move into an apartment above a crack house and embark on a series of drunken escapades and liaisons, stalk a rapist and meet the bloody culmination prefigured at the book’s beginning.

Brentwood and Ross are the sons of an abusive, whoring minister and an alcoholic mother, both suicides. And even though it’s now just them, they remain a dysfunctional family of two. Ross drinks incessantly and raves, his mouth and cockiness constantly getting him into trouble or earning him dubious allies. Brentwood is the steady one, there to clean Ross’s wounds and supply more vodka—he’s also narrator, rendering their misadventures in a vivid mélange of puns, metaphor, word association and rhyme. The story is essentially a character study of charismatic Ross, seeking escape in his constant companion, a vodka-filled Evian bottle, and later, plastic Jesus, as well as in sex, music and poetry. At some point in the plot’s garbled chronology, Ross falls for his one true love, Lizzy, who he later learns has been drugged and raped. He begins to stalk the rapist, Sinboni, or “Sin” for short, who lives in Malibu. Brentwood intersperses the present narrative with episodes from their psychologically distraught family history, an often brutal, razor-edged paean to his brother shot through with biblical references and exaltation à la Rimbaud or Baudelaire. Unfortunately it’s often difficult, given Brentwood’s excessive style and his brother’s rambling dialogue, to follow their inexorable stagger toward a grisly, vengeful fate, or for that matter, to care. 

While filled with moments of psychotically brilliant wordplay, as a novel, it’s almost unreadable.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-932842-02-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Star Cloud Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2010