LOOSE JAM by Wayne Wilson


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A far-fetched but occasionally invigorating first novel--steeped in 60's arcana--about a Vietnam vet and former rock singer whose past comes back to haunt his comfortable present. Fat, balding, and 40-ish, Henry Brown is at least fairly content to lead a quiet existence as a record-store manager in San Luis Obispo, California--his big thrills are tossing down doughnuts and nursing his unrequited love for Martha, a local gift-store owner. But everything falls apart when Miles Duckworth shows up. One-legged, alcoholic, looking as if he had stepped straight out of Haight-Ashbury circa 1967, Miles is Henry's former Vietnam buddy, as well as former lead singer in their fairly successful rock band. Now, Miles is being pursued by an insane Vietnam vet nicknamed Policy Man (also a former comrade of Henry's) who is bent on killing him. So, after drunkenly insulting Henry's boss and getting Henry fired, Miles convinces Henry and Martha to help him flee the Policy Man. To no avail: Policy Man finds their hiding place, and Miles is killed--presumably. Irritatingly and pointlessly obscure on key plot elements--such as Miles' death--and with characters who talk in ancient slang (""I'm really stoked that we're getting this chance to rap""). Still, the author manages to imbue the Policy Man's insane and murderous hunt with real menace. Wilson's forte may be writing thrillers instead of pieces of 60's-angst-in the 80's … la Tom Robbins.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1989
Publisher: Delacorte