Saturday, May 23, 2015
Library Journal starred review of THE CAPTIVE CONDITION:
A Catholic school preppy enrolls in a seemingly idyllic Midwestern university that is anything but. Academic troubles doom him; his pompous and prolix mentor snubs him; and he comes to work for a medium-level criminal known as the Gonk, at the power plant, aka the Bloated Tick. Then, the mentor's mistress drowns drug-addled in her pool, her creepily prescient twins come to live with the mentor, trash his house and then freeze to death in a barn, after which their ghosts doom their seaman father to freezing. Then the Gonk takes revenge on his ex and her new love, who becomes the first of two in this book to be buried alive. The preppy takes revenge on the mentor, but only after all the other Tick workers die at sea. Oh, and many characters here are constantly high on psychedelic carrot juice. You get the idea. Many complicated plots weave and intertwine in a weird and wonderfully rendered universe. Also, there's heavily cadenced prose and A-level vocabulary, along the lines of Tristan Egolf's Lord of the Barnyard. VERDICT: Not an academic send-up à la Richard Russo or Jon Hassler but a highly literary look at the faces of evil in almost all of its guises.