CURSE THE NAMES by Robert Arellano


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A Los Alamos journalist whose cushy lifestyle is already perilously self-destructive stumbles onto a monstrous secret just as toxic to the rest of the world as it is to him personally.

Though he pulls down a six-figure salary and drives a fully restored Spider, James Oberhelm can’t resist the siren call of adventure. When the Goth technician who’s taking his blood invites him to spend the 4th of July with her girlfriends and her at an abandoned house at Morphy Lake where “we could hook up,” he presses his wife Kitty to take a camping trip close by, sneaks out on her in the middle of the night and hikes out to the house, which he finds deserted, with one room mysteriously locked. After gathering information on the house, site of the infamous Johnson family massacre in 1874, he returns days later to break into the locked room and discovers its walls plastered with pages and pages of his own reportage. Who’s so eager to link him to this fatal site, and why? The answers to these questions matter less than the texture of the nightmares into which Oberhelm swiftly sinks. His reveries of the Hiroshima blast, nuclear accidents and a coming apocalypse merge with his increasingly surreal waking life as his identity is stolen, his bank accounts looted and his family dissolved, all as his dependence on drugs spirals from recreational roaches to super-sized portions of Kitty’s oxycodone chased with alcohol.

Arellano (Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, 2001, etc.) pulls off the not-inconsiderable feat of making the disintegration of his hero more compelling than the end of the world as we know it.

Pub Date: Dec. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61775-030-4
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2011


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