If you prefer your pulp fiction challenging and slippery in the mode of early William S. Burroughs, than Brendan Connell’s The Galaxy Club (Chomu Press) may be the read for you. Presented in a Sound-and-Furious flow spoken by a variety of unreliable narrators (many of whom may be the same disassociating New Mexican copper), the book takes us to the American small-town southwest of the 1970’s. There, an ambiguously sexed drifter named Cleopatra gets involved in a dangerous treasure hunt. A Viet Nam vet suffering from PTSD and a serious cough syrup addiction, Cleo connects with a boozy local named Elmer and his inscrutable “aunt” Ramona, runs afoul of town gang members, draws the unwanted attention of a psychotic local cop, and meets a rambunctious Smurf colored kid named Blue Boy Montoya who regularly does battle with a tribe of “dragons” down by the local creek. Observing it all is a group of inexplicable cosmic jokers known as the Galaxy Club, who chatter about the events unfolding but don’t really do anything about them.
Connell tells his scattershot tale through a variety of dubious points-of-view, including that of the water “dragons” that Blue Boy assaults with his Demon Taming Stick, a vandalized religious statue, an old goat named Conway, even a shovel used to uncover the sought-after Spanish treasure. If at times, the differing streams-of-consciousness can get a bit much, the basic gist of The Galaxy Club — of men and women mired in a world full of magicks that they’re too down-trodden and self-absorbed to see — remains clear. The treasure they haphazardly pursue, as in other hard-boiled works (think The Maltese Falcon) proves a chimera.
Blending pulp with beat poetry, hard-boiled cynicism with an amused animism, Connell’s book is not an easy read, but it’s an entertaining one.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1907681256]