Love and Other Pranks by Tony Vigorito

Love and Other Pranks

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Vigorito (Just a Couple of Days, 2015, etc.) details a modern-day love story and its links to the past.

When Merlin Otherwise and Lila Louise first kiss, it is on top of a float in an illegal parade in San Francisco. It is Halloween, and both are dressed as pirates. “We’ve met before, I’m certain,” Merlin tells Lila as their romance instantly blossoms. And while it initially seems merely a cheeky pickup line, it may very well hold some truth. Flashing back to the 18th century, the reader is introduced to two real pirates. Flaming Jane and Crow are swashbucklers of the high seas who, though lawless in their own ways, are not “toothless and swill-sipping” scoundrels. Flaming Jane is an educated woman who “defied her proper place as the property of her admiral husband,” while Crow is an autodidact who relishes the “relative quietude and isolation” of the ship’s crow’s nest. As a plot develops around a search for the “treasure of all treasures,” connections are increasingly made between the past and the present. But can Merlin and Lila’s relationship endure the ongoing existential crisis that is life in the 21st century? What about Jane and Crow’s ability to master the life of outlaws on the high seas? While the protagonists and their goals are essentially clear, the novel is at its best when exploring supporting characters. Whether it is Lila’s pooch, Dogface, a “Tanzanian zebra shepherd” capable of licking herself into “auto-cunnilingual leg spasms,” or an ex-boyfriend, the dubiously named guru Ivan Humble (of whom much can be, and is, explained), the true peculiarities of interest tend to arise in the background. Readers eager to hear young, antihero, Tom Robbins–esque lovers declare their adoration for each other will certainly find contentment within these pages. For those less intrigued by spunky love birds who insist “life is performance art” (as Merlin and Lila concur), all is not lost. What helps to set the story apart from similar fare are the nuanced, often unexpected villains, animals, and biblical allusions along the way.

A boy-meets-girl tale that veers into strange avenues and offers a maelstrom of love-struck possibilities.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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