After shooting shots with Nicole at Murphy's, Sal and Snake head over the Gate to a new massage parlor in Marin that their fellow options trader Mack had told them about. They run over something along the way. Adults Only!
As much as I appreciate the technical virtuosity of today's school of minimalist fiction, sometimes it reminds me of squinting through a kaleidoscope that only shows black and white or straining to hear the tiny tinny voice of a phonograph needle as it spirals the grooves of a record with the amplification turned off...and yet, compared to the chatty deluge mistaken for honesty in many of today's other stories, minimalist fiction can also be good cool like the first stirrings of leaves come evening's breeze after a long, hot, and sweat soaked afternoon. Pete Edmund's "The Head in the Vat, and other stories" is neither and both. This book is way good and blistering hot...like a lung splitting hit off a glass pipe chock full of meth. The title story "The Head in the Vat" is a masterpiece and if J.D. Salinger had gotten caught in the drug and drink infested hell that can be San Francisco's North Beach strip club scene instead of the idylls of the New England countryside, this is a story he might have written. All the stories hold their own as they spit and spark from rehab to a cardboard box in a park to the glamor girls as they strut their flesh and bare their glistens at the Club. And the tangles of smoke that twist as they lift from the ever lit pipe contain not just Salinger but also notes of Raymond Carver and Elmore Leonard. Pete Edmund--welcome to the pantheon! Everyone else--buy this book now!