A debut collection of off-the-wall characters who meet their destiny at a seafood restaurant in Las Vegas in a series of linked comedic vignettes.
In one of these stories, young
Jeremy Ekips, with no qualifications, applies for a job at Vageneral Cereals,
and his perfunctory interview goes on a tangent when he describes his religion,
which features a daffy creation myth of six squabbling gods forging the
universe. In another tale, Wright, a used-trampoline salesman, is aggrieved by
arrogant jingle writer David’s disrespectful treatment, so he contacts IZU, an
assassination company offering elaborate package deals. Elsewhere, Roy
Mackleburns, a Sherlock Holmes manqué of
1930, is investigating cases along with his sociopath sidekick, a hardened
doorknob thief. Jenny, meanwhile, is a frustrated mom who wins $150 quintillion
in a lottery and abandons her children to go to Las Vegas, where she gambles
away most of her money immediately. Vegas is where all the characters’ paths
converge, fatefully, at King Club Decker’s Casino, Hotel and Shrimp House. The
book comes to an end with a “Foreword by Alexander Q. Sweisenhower,” lauding
author O’Neal for attempting to change the way books are written—and failing.
In truth, the whole raison d’être for this collection is the opener, in which
boys steal a government time machine from Area 51 and use it to go back to the
1970s to save Karen Carpenter from starvation. Overall, O’Neal offers an
absurdist, almost Dada-ist mix of short stories, fragments, and burlesques here
that somewhat resemble the free-form prose fiction of the great comic innovator
Spike Milligan. In the end, readers learn that this chaotic narrative
was a collaborative story that the characters wrote for a lark. However,
if the joke is on the reader, it’s no less enjoyable for that. It effectively
showcases the writer’s bright, gonzo imagination, and one can take this
collection in that same anything-goes spirit.
Pure, ridiculous fun for its own sake.