One action-packed day in the life of a bunch of misfits and losers.
“Things could always be worse,” thinks one man in the opening pages of Hefter’s humorous, energetic debut novel. That’s certainly true for the motley cast of characters, most of whom start out at what appears to be rock bottom only to find out that there’s further to fall. Jonah, whose tale of woe kicks things off, is a self-loathing schlub “hurdling toward 30” with an emotionally distant girlfriend who is far out of his league and a crappy job as a personal assistant to a so-called spiritual leader. Skye and Kassie, meanwhile, are best friends who’ve taken jobs as topless maids to pay the rent on their dumpy studio apartment. Each of these luckless but likable failures wants something more out of life, but they can’t quite figure out how to make it happen. Virtually everyone else the trio encounters over the course of the following 24 hours is creepy, violent or just unpleasant. R.J. Bloom, Jonah’s hypocritical, sadomasochistic boss, may destroy the one thing that Jonah values in life. Base Ghost, a drug-dealing, junkie cop, hunts down Kassie and Skye after he hires them to clean his apartment and they double-cross him. Dirt Koharski, Jonah’s drinking buddy, revels in broadcasting tales of his unusual sexual practices. Many events are simply bizarre for the sake of being bizarre: A woman dies after accidentally drinking facial cleanser, a man suffers a gruesome death while masturbating in the bathtub. Darkly funny and often crude, the novel owes an obvious debt to movies like Pulp Fiction, both in the interlocking stories it tells and its ironic celebration of violence. Everything happens in short, kinetic bursts, not surprising since Hefter’s background is in writing for film and television. The breakneck speed means it’s occasionally hard to get a handle on any one character or storyline before the novel veers off in another direction. Yet Hefter capably brings the various threads together in the end.
Tries too hard to be transgressive, but a fast-paced, entertaining read nonetheless.