The Jesus Fish and Slaughter Bird
by Clark Casey;
Published December 21st 2010 by No Dead Trees Press
Source: review copy
An epic novella about four twenty-something lost souls who meet in a bar in Manhattan in the early 1980s. The rollicking narrative follows them for 20 years of their turbulent (and often funny) lives into the turn of the century. The cast includes an aspiring musician/artist and hypochondriac desperately trying to rid himself of his native Queens accent, a racist pool hustler who falls for a Chinese girl, a well-endowed shy girl in search of true love, and a pretty girl with abandonment issues and a dream of becoming a “florologist.” A comedic tour de force by an up-and-coming satirist. Casey’s quick-flowing and punchy prose captures the absurdity of a generation.~ Goodreads Blurb
The idea of this story was cool; I’m not much into the x’s, like 50’s, 60’s, etc, if I’m going historical I’d like to be historical. But this was a cool character with a funny friend and a vision. I always fall for a vision.
The plot was interesting and entertaining, but I felt it needed more development somehow. As I’ve said a couple of times already, I’m not comfortable with a jumping back and forward in storytelling, it’s a very, very rare occasion that I enjoy it. Actually I never enjoy it, but if I’m liking everything else a lot I’ll go with the jumping storytelling style. I’m just that kind of person, time has a clear direction, events have a time-oriented logic, I don’t like to mix and match there. Go gutsy on everything else, but don’t mess with the cardinal axes of time and place. Meh. So the jumping around sort of tired me because it always does.
The characters seemed cool and I did want to know what was going to happen to whom, but at the same time I didn’t connect with them. Perhaps it has to do with identifying with an era, I don’t know, I wasn’t born until the 70’s so all those really close previous things are just not getting to me at all. I mean, I didn’t get why wearing or not wearing makeup was such a flabbing thing, in my day and age you’re free to express your ideas about aesthetics as you damn well please. I didn’t get the Jesus Fish or Slaughter Bird dichotomy because in my amateur opinion as a woman there’s only one kind of women out there: women. Each and every one of them, in the right circumstances or maybe in the wrong ones, with fine enough motives can go either way. I don’t get this urge to separate people in categories and labels, there’s just people. All of them are perfectly capable of doing all the right things and all the horribly wrong things, it’s just a matter of circumstance. So this main thing in this read I didn’t have any connection to.
Anyways, for people born before me it might have more appeal on all the accounts it didn’t reach me at all. The writing in itself was good, engaging and evocative though the choice of storytelling isn’t personally appealing to me. It was a fun read, and I was happy I read it when it was done. Maybe you guys will enjoy it more, tell me if you do.
Do you feel like you can’t identify with ideas and characters really belonging into time frames just a bit before you? Have you ever felt like you can go a lot easier with a historical like hundreds+ years back stories then recent passed times instead?