THE LAST BONGO SUNSET by Les Plesko

THE LAST BONGO SUNSET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Plesko's prolix debut looks at the routine of a college drop-out taking a walk on the wild side--but a reader can only handle so many trips before feeling as numb and alienated as the heroin addicts who litter these pages. The press release explains that Plesko, a Hungarian immigrant, lived as a pimp, dealer, thief, and junkie in Venice Beach, Calif., in the early 1970s and survived to ``tell the tale.'' But true stories don't necessarily make good stories--in fact, they aren't necessarily stories at all. Although the narrative relates the experiences of a young man named College who leaves the comfort of a prestigious Boston university for the danger and excitement of a shabby West Coast apartment and dark, new friends, the novel has no plot. It's a mindless pastiche of scoring, shooting up, riding highs, remembering sad snippets of the past, reliving painful events, and prostitution. As soon as College arrives in California, he hooks up with a pimp named Gary and a prostitute named Cassandra, who turn his pad into a shooting gallery and teach him the arts of smack: cooking down the brown powder, teasing and piercing a vein, registering twice to eliminate deadly air bubbles, never nodding off, and scratching during the trip (because it feels real good). The first time College plunges that syringe into his arm, there's a sickening voyeuristic pleasure; the second time, there's the confidence of knowing what's going on; the third time, it's old hat; and, after that, it's just plain boring. What's worse, the stuff in between (Cassandra's past filled with rape and incest; College's memories of the prostitute mother he was forced to leave behind in Hungary when he was six; the seduction of a 13-year-old runaway into a life of dope and sex-for-hire) is too wordy and dreamy, and all the stories start to sound the same. Monotonous and self-indulgent.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-88049-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994