A rock star searching for his soul embarks on an underworld picaresque in this gonzo satirical romance.
Rook Heisenberg, frontman for the stupefyingly vapid band the Little Bang, experiences every facet of rock-star life—the adoring fans, the glitzy mansion, the three-ways with random bimbos—and a dazed sense of anomie, salved only by memories of his long-lost high-school sweetheart Hula. Once an Internet search and an e-mail reforge that link, Rook is off to Amsterdam, where he discovers that Hula has become the moll of Svidrigailov, a Russian gangster who has put her to work in his brothel, and that Rook and Hula have a teenage daughter named Boudicca, whom Svidrigailov has sequestered in Mumbai. Accompanied by his bodyguard, a beautiful Chinese woman who is as blasé about mass killings as she is about group sex, Rook sets out for India to rescue Boudicca from white slavery. There he is overwhelmed by street urchins, Bollywood stars, menacing thugs who melt when he croons to them, and a pharmaceutical consciousness-raiser so potent that it threatens to destroy his narcissistic cocoon. Rook’s quest gives the author a broad canvas for a funny, sardonic portrait of fame at its most inescapable: as he dispenses autographs and $100 bills to an ever-changing throng of autograph-seekers and flunkies who secretly despise him, he’s constantly confronted with billboards of himself hawking his fashion line. Glavin tells the story with a polished prose style and threads it with intriguing allusions to everything from magic squares to Van Gogh and Dostoevsky. Amid the breezy, Tarantino-esque provocations, he smuggles pathos into Rook’s search for family and meaning, though the debauches and dismemberments proceed in such a casual, jaded tone that they drain some of the novel’s emotional charge. But this diverting, imaginative read keeps the pages turning.
A smart, entertaining send-up of celebrity under siege.