Just another violent, surrealistic day at the most American locale of all, courtesy of the celebrated actor and performance artist’s first novel.
Danny is a suburban husband and father whose wife seems so contented and complete without sex that his doctor has prescribed a course of masturbation. Donna is a hot fox whose boring husband doesn’t appreciate what a sensuous woman she is. Jeff is a teenaged mall rat who just wants the security guys to leave him alone to ponder the state of contemporary culture, the fate of the earth, and his next shot at getting high. Michel is a widowed Haitian security guard who patrols the mall with all the devotion he used to give his late wife. Barry rents tuxes. None of these people has the slightest inkling of how unexpectedly their lives will be changed by Mal, a misfit pumped up on crystal meth who’s killed his mother, set his house afire, armed himself to the teeth, and headed to the mall to settle an old score. And neither will most readers, since Bogosian delights in setting up carefully orchestrated meetings, conversions, and payoffs—needy voyeur meets equally needy exhibitionist, demented killer is stalked by avenger with a single bullet—and then giving the table another shake, sending the balls scattering in alarmingly new patterns. It’s in the nature of this exercise in cosmic non sequitur that it culminates in an absurdist apotheosis rather than a conclusion. But where else are you going to find pleasures like a sex scene that leaves its principal feeling “like a blissed-out, slightly stunned tuna”?
Bogosian’s determined love for the banal, rickety cultural attitudes and artifacts he’s sending up places this despairing, funny debut in the vast sea of satire somewhere between Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Carl Hiaasen’s school of South Florida crazies.