PLEASE by Peter Darbyshire
Kirkus Star


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Hilarious social satire of daily life among the young and nihilistic.

We never learn the name of the narrator, but no loss—judging from his general level of awareness, he may not be sure of it himself. Young, usually unemployed, and very laid back, he seems to spend most of his time hanging out in a bar patronized largely by drug dealers and sadomaschists in the hope that something will turn up. Told largely in vignettes, the story has our hero (if that’s the word) fall into a series of bizarre adventures that generally entail petty crime and moral depravity. He’s the sort of fellow capable of helping a blind man find his way home, but he’s more at ease smoking marijuana with him and telling him how his neighbors look as they have sex on their kitchen table. His girlfriends invariably leave him (sometimes for amputees), and his loser jobs (telephone dispatcher, etc.) never last long. So he supplements his income with breaking-and-entering, credit-card fraud, even prostitution. Although the location is never made clear, it seems very much a West Coast world, with stoned partygoers taking passed-out girls home with them as favors to their hosts and just about everyone has a movie script buried beneath a lot of junk in the backseat of a car. And, while it’s not always a terribly happy world (people are sometimes electrocuted by amplifiers or burned on movie-set explosions), the primary emotion seems to be stupefaction—as if it’s all just too weird to be believed. Which, in fact, it is.

Although his deadpan tone (“I met the coma woman at Kennedy’s place”) may strike some as excruciatingly hip, Canadian Darbyshire has a sharp eye for the absurd, and he’s ruthless in holding the ridiculous up to ridicule: a winner of a debut.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55192-562-1
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2003


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by Chris Mendius