NINE KINDS OF NAKED by Tony Vigorito


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From Vigorito (Just a Couple of Days, 2007), another whimsical tale of time, space, coincidence and cause and effect.

The author displays most of the linguistic acrobatics and playful rumination that made his debut a cult classic. The plot, such as it is, jumps across centuries and features a motley assortment of fools and philosophers: Clovis, a ninth-century serf who unties a magical knot in a strap of leather, unleashing a world of enchanting gnomes; Dr. Rip Blossom, an “ob-gyn striptease fiend” obsessed with the performer Betty Boobs (aka Elizabeth Wildhack, a freewheeling stripper fascinated by the concept of synchronicity); Father J.J. Speed, who renounces the cloth to become the skilled dopehead-wrangler Special Agent Speed; and Diablo, a New Orleans–based street vendor and long-winded conversationalist who may or may not have an altar ego named Billy Pronto. In the tradition of Douglas Adams and Tom Robbins, much of the book is given over to philosophic musings about the connection among all things: “…all physical sensation was overwhelmed by the fundamental vibration of being, shining like the sun and chiming like a chorus of nightingales as her self-perception became nothing more than a kaleidoscopically unfurling column of love.” But Vigorito doesn’t offer the cohesion or acuity of Adams and Robbins, and many narrative strands are either dropped or overblown into repetitive dialogue about love, sex, joy, imagination, natural harmony, etc. What effect did Clovis’s actions have on the characters in the present? Was Elizabeth’s birth during a violent tornado in Normal, Ill., connected to her later meeting (and coupling) with Diablo, who experienced the very same storm? And how to explain the “Great White Spot,” a super-hurricane operating outside the normal principles of weather that’s hovering off the coast of New Orleans? These are only a few of the questions left unanswered in this sprawling, shaggy novel.

A step back after a promising debut. Hopefully Vigorito will put his poetic prose and expansive vision to more disciplined use in the future.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-15-603123-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2008