Sunday, November 15, 2009

bizarro review #3

"Asphalt Flowerhead". Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink. 2008.

Wallets are cumbersome things. Mine shit the bed a while back and I figured a driver's license and a library card didn't warrant a new one which meant fresh real estate in the back pocket. Now, whoever had the idea to make Forrest Armstrong's "Asphalt Flowerhead" the size of those little green Bibles deserves a beer because I've been able to carry it with me everywhere, in my back pocket, opening it at random and savoring Armstrong's deft, vivid prose one or two paragraphs at a time.

The novel opens at a literal hole in the wall, Club Africa, an art gallery/drug den run by the enigmatic Brad Kelly. The club is raided and we follow the friends through the diaspora. Bill is a painter, arrested on his first offense and dropped into a hallucination chamber. Nail is a junky who gets bailed out and sets out to create a new drug in the questionable hope that the proceeds might bail out his friends. Johnny is a junky who seeks spiritual enlightenment at the risk of self combustion. And then there's Chevy, born into a perpetual acid trip, an Einstein-esque father of a weapon of mass destruction more deadly than any atomic bomb. We follow these characters at a lightning pace, leading to my one complaint, which is that, while I don't need character names to be Pynchonian, in a story that moves this fast, it would be beneficial to have slighlty more distinct character names than Bill, Brad, and Johnny.

From homicidal fascist cops to a robot destruction of Amsterdam, the story is so surreal and apocalyptic and the voice is so eloquently angry that one can't help but imagine the words being shouted through a bullhorn, from atop the burned out shell of an SUV, which, in my opinion, is something all serious literature should aspire to.

I believe that Forrest Armstrong is the real deal. I believe that his talent for language is something to get excited about, and I think "Asphalt Flowerhead" is a great introduction and an ideal place to become a fan.

Buy it here.

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