SNAKESKIN by John McCabe


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A funny, brightly cynical look at a world of liars and poseurs.

Flying home to London, a man in business class introduces himself as Archie to his seatmate Darren. Darren’s luggage missed the flight and he’s low on cash. No matter. Archie makes a generous loan. But it does matter, because Darren gave Archie a bogus address and plans to skip off with the money. That’s okay, too, because Archie is going to purloin Darren’s luggage and his identity. Having hatched a complicated computer scheme that made him temporarily rich, Archie will use the alias to dodge the two men who proposed the caper in the first place. That happened when Archie was really Ian Gillick—Ian took the name of co-worker Archie to evade his co-conspirators after he ripped them off. The real Archie still works for the computer firm where this roundelay of doubles all began. Archie may be the only one here who knows what he’s all about. He collects and meticulously files his earwax, nose hairs, and boogers. As another character observes, Archie “was collecting himself.” British author McCabe (Stickleback, p. 170, etc.) gives everyone deeper reasons to run from themselves (or, in Archie’s case, look inward): the TV and movies they watch are insipid, academics are idiots, and the places people hide are vapid—Ian describes LA, where he’d sought cover, as “the Fame Pimp of the World.” Even when Ian and a lady friend get stoned so they can speak the truth, their observations are banal. Ian is fed up with being a parasite. Should he accept a dull job and just be himself? Darren is out there now as Archie, hoping to get back at Ian. Archie, indignant at the thefts of his identity, has teamed with the two thugs chasing Ian. What’s Ian to do?

Catch Ian when you can.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2003
ISBN: 0-552-99873-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Black Swan/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003


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