Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Frank Wheeler, Jr.'s The Wowzer

I got some advice a long time ago.  It came in two parts:  (1) just because a guy talks with an English accent doesn't mean he's smarter than you and (2) just because a guy talks with a southern accent doesn't mean he's dumber than you.

As I read Frank Wheeler, Jr.'s The Wowzer, the first thing that came to mind was that second part.  I'd advise you to keep that in mind too when you read it (and you should read it, if for no other reason than to tell people you were a fan of The Wowzer before it was cool—before it got turned into a TV series or a movie).  The novel is narrated by Jerry, an Arkansas sheriff's deputy with a foot in the drug underworld.  And Jerry doesn't much care if you're not used to the way he talks or the fact that he drops the 'd' from the word 'and'.  It may be a bit jarring at first, but won't be long before you hear that drawl in your head.  I swear it's almost like I was listening to an audiobook instead of reading it.  Wheeler pulls of a mean trick with this narration in dialect.  Lots of writers try it, few succeed.  The only ones that immediately jump to mind are Burgess and Welsh.  Good company to be in, I think.

Jerry's got some problems.  His girlfriend's learned that his activities aren't always on the right side of the law.  The local drug underworld seems to be bursting at the seams with rogue activity.  And someone is trying to kill him.  Jerry, however, has some things going for him.  He's usually the smartest guy in the room, even though no one usually realizes it.  He's a good shot.  And he's a psychopath that doesn't feel much remorse when he has to, say, chop someone's head off in the middle of a gun fight and use it to scare the crap out of the dope fiends trying to kill him. 

Yeah, this book was basically tailor-made for me.

It will be simply astounding to me if The Wowzer isn't on some Year's Best-type lists come January 2013.  I'll be even more surprised if Wheeler doesn't have to beat off the Hollywood types with a stick for the rights to this book. 

Here's to a happy release day for The Wowzer on May 1, 2012.

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