California’s Imperial Valley, a “stretch of desert between San |Diego and Yuma, as far south and as far east as you could go in California,” is the setting for this new novel from Johnny Shaw, bringing the return of Jimmy Veeder and his best friend, Bobby Maves, described by Jimmy as “an even split between Swiss and Mexican [who] favored Latin in his look, but identified as white. What was called a Rednexican.” Each of the men has become a father, and though one would expect that would have “tamed” them, it does not seem to be the case.
Jimmy and Bobby have, with some regularity, embarked upon ‘adventures’ that Jimmy refers to as “Mavescapades,” frequently involving some less-than-legal activities. Jimmy, who adores his five-year-old son, Juan, is a fairly law-abiding individual when not under Bobby’s influence. And there is always a great deal of alcohol consumed. When Bobby’s 15-year-old daughter, Julie, goes missing, the two embark on yet another mission.
The novel is often laugh-out-loud funny, although to be sure there is a great deal of mayhem, often at one and the same time, the initial instance on page one. But the other side of that is, e.g., the description of a jail cell as “the dark rainbow of human experience voiced through the cries of the detained.” (Not sure why he is in jail, Jimmy wonders whether being an “accessory to punching a dog in the face was a crime”) Part Two of the book, about half-way through the tale, takes the reader to the eponymous desert area where the rest of the action takes place, including an encounter with a Mexican biker gang, and where a typical establishment is called Ocotillo Beer and Ammo. The terrific writing makes the desert come to life, or what passes for life: feel the heat, inhale the dust, smell the farm animals.
A thoroughly entertaining novel, and recommended....Continua