Done: Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, 2009, 9780345501110.
very good. Another Huston novel, another fuck-up as protagonist.
Huston almost always has really fun stuff. I'm in the middle of a Duane
Switzkerlyminskydee novel and the and the similar setting and humor
keep mixing the two in my mind. Spoilers to follow.
is a pain-in-the-ass-guy in his late 20s living in Los Angeles. His
roommate and best pal Chev owns a tattoo shop. Web has no job but
plenty of allusions are made to a traumatic past. Po Sin picks up the
tattoo shop's medical waste - bloody clothes, used tattoo needles - and
knows Web. Po Sin offers Web a day job. Web just broke Chev's phone and also owes him rent money so he takes the $10 an hour gig.
Sin's main business service is cleaning biohazard. Crime scenes, suicides, and
decompsoing bodies are Po Sin's beat. Insults and emotional distance
are Web's beat. Web meets grieving daughter at suicide clean-up. Web
and grieving daughter hit it off in a weird, post traumatic way. The
girl, Soledad, calls late at night to ask Web to clean blood from a
motel room. Motel room houses her dirtbag half brother and blood spray.
gets pulled into crime story involving Dirtbag Half Brother and
Soledad. Web bangs Soledad. Web's boss's van is stolen. Web is pulled
into Po Sin's cleaning business rivalry subplot. Web assaulted by
other dirtbags. Soledad kidnapped. Web has to deliver Other Dirtbag's
property to rescue Soledad.
Anyway. Characters have
lots of character. Web deals with his estranged father. Violence
ensues. Romance ensues. Tales of PTSD ensue. Web was a teacher on a school field trip when his school bus drives through a gang gunfight. Wisecracks
are abundant. Web wonders if Soledad killed her dad. Everything ends
happily ever after except for the dead people.
1. Huston's standard dialogue with stops, starts, pauses, and half-finished sentences.
Web comments on the surrealness of the situations he gets in. Web's
father was a famous screenwriter and movie plots versus reality are
commented on. Suspension of disbelief challenged by being discussed.
3. Plenty of humor.
The clean-up business seems to have brought this novel a fair amount of
attention. That is a fairly small part of the story. I presume Huston
heard about the business and thought it would be neat to write about.
The focus is on the characters not crime scene detail.
5. I'm thinking this was nominated or won an Edgar or something. I will not bother checking on this.