THE DRIFT by John Ridley

THE DRIFT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Real badass. Yeah.

When black Los Angeles tax-lawyer Charles Harmon is told by his wife Beverly that she’s pregnant, Charles falls into nightmares of her having a three-eyed baby, the third eye cobalt blue in the baby’s cheek. Shit. Charles is under an infinite hill of Yuppie Scum irritants and frustrations. Fuck. “Charles Harmon? Uppity Nigger Charles. Thing is, uppity niggers get beaten down.” He hits the rails as an FTRA (Freight Train Riders of America). Trouble is, lots of peckerwood gangers also ride the rails—and they love to gangbang Charlies and Yuppie Scum out on freedom larks. So Charles gets George Plimpton to stand up for him—George Plimpton is a wooden goony stick with a sharpened piece of steel that ’bos use for protection, and with George Plimpton at his side Charles Harmon becomes Brain Nigger Charlie, whom nobody toys with. Chocolate Walt, Charlie’s mentor on riding the rails and nominated as King of the Hoboes at the National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa, calls Brain Nigger for help. Will he find Corina Leslie, Walt’s niece, for him? She’s a high, high yellow 17-year-old riding the rails in the Pacific Northwest. Charlie, not just whacked out on drugs but by now deep into dementia, agrees. Now, as Ridley fans know (Stray Dogs, 1997; Everybody Smokes in Hell, 1999, etc.), the female is the deadlier of the species, although Brain Nigger will find himself up against psycho ’bos and killer yard bulls flashing clubs and rubbing the pieces strapped to their legs. Many deaths dog him, and when he finally finds Corina, she’s a mule for a neo-Nazi drug dealer and has swallowed over a dozen condoms full of drugs, can’t evacuate them, and is being chased by the bad guys. “Stay with me, all you’re going to end up is limp in a ditch,” she warns him. Actually, things end up worse than that.

Maybe it’s art. Maybe it’s spiritual. Like a psychotropic redemption high.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-41182-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002




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