An experimental debut novel in stories about artists wrestling with addiction and sexual frustration in Los Angeles.
Each of this book’s six chapters is centered on a single character—respectively, “the writer,” Mrs. Randall, Rodney, “the sponsor,” “the sex addict,” and Nelly. While visiting New York City for a reading, the writer gets a drink at a bar, where he discovers that all his fellow patrons can read his mind. In the second chapter, the writer is left behind for a new character, Mrs. Randall, who finds a renewed passion for life when she volunteers at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California, while her soldier husband is deployed abroad. After enduring the loneliness of raising an infant alone and then experiencing a personal tragedy, Mrs. Randall begins to experience states of confusion associated with the onset of dementia; although she “didn’t suffer at the beginning phase of the disease…she was entertained almost all the time,” Disney writes. As readers proceed deeper into Mrs. Randall’s mind, they’ll find nothing that connects her with the writer, and nothing supernatural seems to be afoot. Only the characters’ similar geographical location provides a thin thread of connection; the writer is a recent Angeleno while Mrs. Randall lives in or near Glendale. The next chapter, however, focuses on a man named Rodney, whose father worked at the Alex Theatre; in this way, Disney emphasizes the connection between the characters—and the slightness of it. (Rodney goes on to unexpectedly develop stigmata.) As this collection of vignettes about isolation cycles in the remaining characters, it proves to be light on plot, as a rule. However, it sparkles intermittently with surprising kernels of humor: “It is not in the least bit difficult to hide one’s stigmata on the set of an episodic television show.” The wry observations of each new player manage to cut through their personal misery. As the characters strut and fret their hour on the stage, their stories unfold in a vacuum that each one seems unable to escape.
A surreal and darkly funny set of tales of West Coast strangers.