Desperate Characters

Nicholas Christopher, Author
Nicholas Christopher, Author Viking Books $19.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-670-82399-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
The jazzy, 70-page novelette-in-verse that comprises this book's title poem will strike some readers as deliciously chic, while others may find it an insipid joke that quickly palls. Transported to Hollywood, the anonymous narrator gets mixed up with Stella, hostess-cum-bodyguard who packs a revolver under her pink kimono, and with her ex-boyfriend, bighearted circus performer Rocco the Human Cannonball, fond of spinach and Charlie Parker saxophone riffs. Featuring a flimsy, ridiculous plot, bizarre characters, frenzied sex and the ever-present buzz of Los Angeles, this verse narrative burlesques Raymond Chandler's detective fiction, surrealist novels and classical odes. The language occasionally rises to beautiful heights, but the story is ultimately pointless. The remainder of the volume contains 14 shorter verses by a poet ( A Short History of the Island of Butterflies ) whose whimsical mix of fantasy and observation reflects an esthetic, distanced approach to life, whether he is observing Bowery bums or a jet-setter. (September)
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