ZEITGEIST by Todd Wiggins


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 Wiggins's maiden voyage is an endless apocalyptic road trip going nowhere at great length, certain to leave even the grownups in the backseat whining, ``Are we there yet?'' Everything starts on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where a priest with a Kalashnikov commandeers a car to elude the cops and make it out of town. Inside the car are Dorian, a failed Oxford don, and Prophet, a black ``cyberterrorist'' who specializes in computer fraud. Fish, the priest, quickly hits it off with Dorian and Prophet, and the three decide to take to the highways with the ample stash of drug money that Fish has just ripped off from a dealer. Like all such characters on the lam, they commit more crimes on the way and eventually find themselves in deep trouble. It's the end of 1999, you see, and America is coming apart: Racial tensions have erupted into something close to actual warfare, and a plague of militias and cults have sprung up. The story is narrated by Venus Wicked, a novelist and prostitute, who is rather coy at first about her relation to the peculiar trio. ``I have a narrative of my own,'' she insists, ``which runs parallel to that of my friends, and to which I will repair from time to time throughout these pages. The diversion will not be unprofitable- -trust me on that.'' It quickly becomes apparent, however, that Venus's story is not a diversion at all, and that her history and fate are directly linked to the three outcasts. The leisurely way that she makes her own connection to the action clear is emblematic of the book as a whole--basically a simple road story smothered by intellectual pretensions and a meandering narrative voice. Odd, bloated, and devoid of focus.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4417-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1996