Young’s (Faraway Green, 2015) second novel follows an impotent employee sent by his company to tell an island nation that its funding is being cut off only to be ensnared in the schemes of the eccentric, sex-crazed natives.
Prescott Bullard Jr., head of the Federal Cigar Corporation, is furious that his father has for years paid exorbitant prices for third-rate leaf tobacco from the tiny island of Cigaros, despite the father’s long-ago dalliance with a local. The day after his father dies, Bullard vows to correct this, sending Warren Hornsby—a hapless chemist known mostly for developing a “delay cream” for premature ejaculation—to break the news. Hornsby, suffering from an uncooperative member and an unhappy lover, welcomes the distraction, and he’s soon negotiating the island’s difficult terrain (literal, cultural, and otherwise). The large cast includes obsequious and silver-tongued El Presidente, who distrusts Hornsby’s intentions, as well as his Communist, bloodthirsty brother and rival, Raoul, who wants nothing more than to kill Hornsby out of mere principle. For good measure, author Young also throws in a 200-year-old voodoo priest, a dyspeptic general, and a redemptive love interest named Rita Panatella. Young takes clear delight in giving his characters Pynchon-esque names (e.g., Marco Insertaglio) and allowing them ornate, over-the-top language that might be tiring were it not so consistently funny: “But you, oh great swordsman, are known to frequent the Bordello with a regularity that bespeaks great dedication! It is small wonder your men proclaim loudly that they would follow you anywhere! You are usually on your way to the Bordello!” Although some readers may object to the frequency with which Young’s jokes revert to the sexual and scatological, they will nevertheless admire the creativity and surprises that fill his tense, well-crafted plot.
A first-rate humorist emerges in this assured, ambitious, and unapologetically entertaining satire.