This time out, Lindquist (Carnival Desires, 1990, etc.) gives us Jane Austen in reverse.
Ex-grunge star Pete Tyler’s Seattle rock band fell apart eight years ago, and since then he’s become a lawyer. Now, at 36 and after sex with some 300 women, he wants to marry. Like the deal-making screenwriter in Carnival who wanted to leave the scene after too many “club sluts,” wifeless Pete floats through his days on raw unfiltered Camels and shots of Johnnie Walker while fearing the fast approach of age 40. Women still see some glamour, but not much, in the rock-star manqué, while at the moment Pete’s become page-one news in Seattle for prosecuting local rock guitarist Keith Johnson, a.k.a. Keith Junior, for the date rape of 19-year-old Amber Nickerson. Seattle is famed for its pickup rock bands, and Pete is still up to his follicles in rock, measuring every minute of the day against tunes and lyrics finely detailed throughout the story. He longs for the girl who got away 12 years ago, Beth Keller, whom he hasn’t seen since. He’s deep with a stripper named Winter, bright but not exactly marrying stuff, and has just taken up with Sub Pop A&R executive Esmé, to whose label Keith is signed. The novel’s big lift doesn’t come until Pete’s heavy-drinking assistant prosecutor, Scott, enters and starts spouting first-rate cynical witticisms like a Seattle Oscar Wilde: “The whole retro thing. You might be on the cutting edge with this marriage idea. It’s making a comeback . . . —marriage, adultery, promiscuity, alcoholism, Sinatra, the things that made this a great country.” And so Pete staggers in search of “the curative sensation of human contact” and “the redemptive power of passion.” Fruitlessly.
Written on ice cubes in 86-proof ink. Quite amusing. And as perishable as the rock classics Pete reveres.