Hicks delivers a postmodern novel likely to appeal to a segment of sophisticated 21st-century readers.
The unnamed narrator was born to a drug-addled woman, Martha, who gave him up to her girlfriend Marleen for adoption. Wade, who is into music and drug-dealing, lives with Marleen and serves as a sort-of stepfather (and perhaps biological father) to said narrator (let’s call him S.N.). Wade plans to go to Berlin to become a DJ. S.N. has many orgasms. Wade goes to Berlin. Story ends. Oversimplified? Yes, but not by much. Do not expect a plot. Interspersed with flashes of brilliant writing, this book is a page-turner only in the let’s-get-this-over-with sense of the phrase. S.N. isn’t a bad person, but who cares about his sexual activities (they’re not even exploits)? Who cares that Wanda wants him to ejaculate for target practice? For almost half a page, S.N. plays with a pile of his dandruff and loose hair, imagining them to be comets and stars. Surprisingly, that brings this review to something positive. Hicks is a terrific writer who can craft a simile with the best of them. Some of his wordplay makes the read almost worth the while (“icicles hanging from its grille like drool from a Saint Bernard”), but then he gets artsy, filling pages with erudite references that seem designed only to impress. The main issue isn’t his writing but his storytelling. Readers expect a progression: S.N. wants something important (other than sex, which is much too easy). He encounters obstacles and shows his mettle by how he faces them. An antagonist has conflicting wants. Ultimately, S.N. either triumphs or fails, and we see what, besides testicular tissue, he is made of.
Read this book to admire Hicks’ mastery of language, for the titillating sexual references and for the interesting characters. But if you want a story with a point, Hicks misses the target.