Myers (Coyote, 2012) offers a satirical novel about one lawyer’s quest through a bizarre Midwestern world.
When readers first meet Lucien Carr, he’s outside the National Iowa Registration Entry Facility, running late for an appointment. He’s a small-claims lawyer from Indianapolis who’s seeking to deliver a legal document in Iowa City. Although such a mission seems simple enough, the book takes place in a most “odd and desperate time” in America. Not only is travel to Iowa City a measure that requires getting “an official transport” and various documents, as well as dealing with layers of bureaucracy, it also requires a strange sort of currency: corn kernels. Lucien is able to pay for his passage through Iowa with one such kernel, given to him by a man running for president. Things seem to be going in Lucien’s favor, until they inevitably don’t, but he does his best to navigate an ensuing adventure that’s every bit as odd and desperate as it appears on the surface. Indeed, making sense of the saga requires close reading, as it’s populated by odd people (such as a so-called “Chiron figure” named Porter) and contains such revelations as the fact that Lucien is related to the “Very famous” writer Kurt Vonnegut. Still, some details of this satire have clear counterparts in the real world, including numerous refugees and a hologram named Dick Chaney who’s an interrogation expert. In the tradition of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Myers mocks authority and has his characters deal with fantastical circumstances in a serious manner. Some readers may find the mockery a little heavy-handed at times, though; for example, at one point, Chaney states “exactly why [Lucien] hates these United States of America from the bottom of his wicked heart.” Others, though, are likely to double over in laughter at such references as “the little known John Phillip Sousa opera I’m White, So Don’t Make Me Red, Cause I’d be Blue.” The story moves rapidly to an ending that’s every bit as strange as its beginning.
An ambitious, quick satire that offers a mixed bag of the cynical and the odd.