The host of a ghost-themed talk show finds himself inside the stories of his callers and sinking into memories of his own disastrous past in a first novel that moves with deserved confidence into Stephen King territory.
Artfully drawing on the raucous cultures of North America’s two most populous nations, Gout weaves time and viewpoints and his own spectral illustrations into a swift, sophisticated take on what may or may not be madness and may or may not be death. Two cars collide on a highway outside Houston. The survivors are teenaged boys, one from each of the vehicles. Gabriel and Joaquin, both from Anglo-Mexican families, bond with each other during their long recovery in the hospital, eventually pairing as Deathmuertoz, a rock duo that finds favor with Goths (among others). A terrible event in an abandoned Mexican radio station leaves the surviving Joaquin without a musical partner and with no ambition to rebuild. He stays in Mexico, where he drifts into broadcasting and evolves into the host of “Ghost Radio,” a nighttime call-in program on which people share their personal tales of the supernatural. When he takes up with Goth beauty Alondra, a serious student of comic books, she moves reluctantly into his professional life as the program’s resident voice of reason. Such a voice becomes ever more necessary as Joaquin becomes so susceptible that he finds himself actually slipping into some of the stories as they are told. The show becomes so popular that it moves to the United States, and Joaquin’s supernatural experiences begin to intrude off the air. It turns out that his dead partner Gabriel has news for Joaquin from the Other Side—none of it good.
Palpable, almost visible cross-cultural creepiness that never lets up: very smart thrills.