In a postmodernist world of NYC graffiti artists driven underground, war is an act of art.
Mansbach (Seriously, Just Go To Sleep, 2012, etc.) returns to fictionalizing the untidy corners of the New York City culture wars. Our admittedly unreliable narrator is Dondi Vance, a biracial scholarship student and part-time hydro dealer. He’s just been dumped by Kirsten, aka “The Uptown Girl,” who is furious that Dondi’s been expelled from “Whoopty Whoo Ivy League We’s A Comin’ Academy.” He’s also the product of mad genes, having been raised by his mother, Karen, after his papa, Billy Rage, the city’s most infamous graffiti artist, vanished in 1989 after his best friend’s murder. Now everyone on the scene is clashing with Billy’s nemesis, corrupt transit authority bureaucrat Anastacio Bracken. As a narrator, Dondi wields a fantastic but implausible voice that is electric with rhythm, riddled with bullshit and wise beyond its years. One second, he has a professorial understanding of street culture; the next, he’s discovering a time warp in a tenement building. We get a good example of Dondi’s attitude when Billy returns from psychotropic exile in Mexico. “When you’re responsible for somebody with whom you’ve got so much unresolved shit, you’ve either gotta find the inner strength to make each act a tiny gesture of forgiveness, or else spend every stagnant, housebound hour pulsing with resentment.” Dondi's story proves thrilling: The book is peppered with grandfatherly revolutionaries, slang-slinging young bloods and an army of paint-wielding ninjas who unite with military precision on an ambitious plan to graffiti-bomb every single train car on the MTA.
A love letter dripping with 1980s nostalgia that talks and talks and talks the talk.