Ginger Nuts of Horror
You know the movie Smokey And The Bandit? Reading Sam W. Anderson's The Nines is like remembering it but instead of Jerry Reed as the Snowman, replace him with a middle-aged, steroid-abusing, muscle-bound beast named Artimus. Instead of humping a trailer full of Coors across the state line, he's ferrying a much more sinister cargo on a stretch of American highway known simply as The Nines. This is the arterial thoroughfare of the country, all the bad shit, the stuff that is everywhere but no one seems to know how it got there...this is how it gets there.
Artimus just hauls and drops, no questions asked. His "Bandit" is a the less-than-sane Baily. She's stern and all-business and she talks the her hand. This book starts out with our man Artimus about to embark on what should be just another run. But his twin brother, Henry has another idea. See, Sheriff Henry has an addiction to meth and Asian porn...and he likes to be naked. Sheriff Henry is feeling real bad about leaving his woman and daughter in Vietnam after the war. So he's decided that doing the right thing for once might just cause all the dominoes to fall in a line and put him of the path to happiness and a good life. Boy, is he wrong.
The Nines is every bit as enjoyable as Anderson's American Gomorrah omnibus. I love the dark and gritty noir and the hyper-fucked up characters that weave the fabric of his work. The one's mentioned above along with Sister Dazy, the nun who could drink the late Oliver Reed off his stool and have no problem blowing him at the same time. David Howard the film-obsessed young man with the mail-order bride and the sinister agenda. The burn-scarred Deputy Bear and Deacon Rice (one of the most vile villains in modern fiction) help carry the load of this twisty turny story. It's equal parts Lansdale and Coen Brothers on the set of Movin' On. It's the great green gobs of greasy grimy guts that America keeps in it's ever-puffed out chest.
The Nines is fast-paced and fun. The populace so deeply flawed and fractured yet inherently human and funny all at the same time. I enjoyed the ride. And what a ride it is.
The Nines is available from Rothcopress.