Connecticut resident Slattery’s debut is a kaleidoscopic celebration of the immigrant experience thinly disguised as science fiction.
As New York bakes in the heat, Manuel Rodrigo de Guzmán González’s apartment explodes. There’s no sign of Manuel, but nobody—especially Manuel’s friend and lover Wendell Apogee—believes Manuel is dead. Since Manuel left no trace in any official record, police investigators Herman Trout and Lenny Salmon come to Wendell for help. Wendell, with no idea where Manuel went, slogs through a brawling, seething succession of parties, clubs, cockfights, restaurants and apartments populated by desperate immigrants, sometimes in the light of day, sometimes in a mysterious underground realm where railroad carriages hang suspended from the roof of a vast cavern. He narrowly avoids death at the hands of crime boss El Flaco, who believes Manuel has stolen his wife Lavinia away, and dodges attacks by four weird figures clad in purple raincoats that, mounted on zooming scooters, kill people with green death rays. Immediately dubbed the Four Horsemen, the hunters seem invulnerable to bullets and explosives. Advised by his friend Masoud Aziz that he must change his identity and stop looking for Manuel, Wendell notices that the Horsemen seem bent on killing all the members of the Church of Panic, a cult that believes the Earth is threatened with invasion by space aliens. A pathologist, meanwhile, ponders body parts fished from the East River that definitely aren’t human.
Pynchon crossed with Steinbeck, painted by Dali: Impossible to summarize, swinging from the surreal to the hyper-real, a brilliantly handled, tumultuous yarn that, for all its blazing pyrotechnics, has but a single point to make.