Email this review


 The editor emeritus of New York's Lower East Side (and the author of one previous novel, Kill the Poor, 1988) here tries to cash in on the post-Tarantino trend in nihilist/killer coolness for this tale of a Jack Henry Abbott sort--an ex-con who writes his way out of a life sentence only to end up back in the can on a bum rap. Joey One-Way, ``a walking aberration, a talking negotiation,'' serves over 17 years for killing his adulterous wife, who was ``light, bright, and almost white.'' As narrator of this supposedly transgressive narrative, Joey establishes his street credo early on, both with his ungrammatical ghetto dialect and his boast of tearing off a jail rapist's testicles. Joey's jailhouse masterpiece, ``White Man Black Hole,'' lands him a job ``juicing up'' scripts for a Miami Vice-like TV show set on Manhattan's mean streets, on which Joey is ostensibly an authority. Joey's pent-up aggression finds expression in a number of ways: He slashes a street punk in the face, he breaks a beer bottle over the head of a Maileresque writer at a cocktail party, and he enjoys lots of steamy sex with the wife of the man who arranged his release, the show's producer. Irony of ironies, this showbiz smoothie will also frame Joey for schtupping his old lady, a sultry French Algerian, a former prostitute who became famous writing about her career. Joey's so cool that he not only talks funny (``Joey smell death''), but he can't believe how lame all the upscale heroin users are in Manhattan (i.e., junkies ain't what they used to be). A stunning display of artsploitation, this self-styled shocker will probably suffer the fate of such books: Those who would be shocked aren't likely to read it. But if they do, they'll discover that the biggest con here is not Joey or his producer, but the novel itself. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-517-70819-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997


FictionTHE BLACKEST BIRD by Joel Rose
by Joel Rose
FictionLOVE IS STRANGE by Joel Rose
by Joel Rose