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by Mike Harvkey

Pub Date: April 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61902-294-2
Publisher: Soft Skull Press

For his debut novel, Harvkey gathers together an odd band of malcontents and down-on-their-luck types in this tale of a man who believes he has run out of options and the people who offer him one.

Clyde Twitty is a man on the downswing. He’s lost a job and most of his pride and lives with his elderly mother in a depressed area of Missouri. The day-to-day struggle of trying to hold on to their little home, which is also the base of his mother’s beauty salon business, has left the young man as worn and disillusioned as his old uncle Willie, who lives in a mobile home with his ancient dog. But then Clyde meets the Smalls family: patriarch Jay, an odd man with a pushy personality; Jan, his big-busted wife; and Tina Louise, their teenage daughter. Jay bullies Clyde into learning karate from him, and Tina makes him her lover, quickly integrating the impressionable Clyde into their large clan of cousins and followers. But there is more to the Smalls than meets the eye, and it’s not simply the fact that Tina Louise sells Amway. They’ve launched a war on everyone they consider an enemy, and in their book, a lot of people and groups fall into that category. Soon, Clyde is knee-deep in violence, and there’s no looking back, and what he finds out about himself, and the subsequent direction his life takes, is fodder for Harvkey’s pen. Harvkey is clearly a talented writer, but his subject matter is disheartening. Not everyone will want to climb inside the head of someone as clearly out of control as Jay Smalls, and those who do might find the story more depressing than the reality upon which it is based.

Well-written, but readers will struggle to care about the fates of Clyde, the Smalls or any of the other characters.