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 A darkly entertaining, raunchy road trip--New York City to Brazil--by hearse, from newcomer Mayle. Mayle figured the most sensible vehicle to pilot for the 15,000 miles to Carnival was a hearse, a raven-black, 21-foot behemoth, complete with heavy chroming, fins, and wheelskirts, a vintage '73 dreamboat, sure to ``sing like a bird, pull like a train.'' Narco-gangsters, banditos, the Shining Path, kidnappers: All would give wide berth to the slab of mobile bad karma. He drafted two weird characters--Lenny, the Artist, and Tarris, outlander and road warrior--to share the journey. Stereo pumping, in the guise of traveling morticians, they made their way south. And what might be expected to befall them does: The transmission blows a gasket, they run out of gas, again and again. They argue among themselves, they drink an ungodly amount, there is a minor confusion with a clutch of male prostitutes. Each border crossing is an exercise in bribery, each town sports a sour, stale bar. The boys hit every one of them, alert to the possibilities, fornication on their minds. They even fashion a few rules: Drunk driving is banned, as is drunk dancing on the roof of the hearse. But these fellows enjoy tiptoeing to the edge--fencing some artwork in Bogot†, falling into a police trap trying to score coke in Cali, sinking their testicles into bowls of ice to counteract the tropical heat (an old Sri Lankan trick known to Tarris). When Mayle loses his traveling companions in Colombia, he continues to play it light, the writing remains jazzy and impetuous, but by now there is a decided note of menace in the air, gritty and scary. A grade B movie on wheels, indelicate and noir. (Author tour- -with hearse)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8021-1604-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1996