New product description for FLICK:
Flick is a damned difficult book to describe, but one might, if pressed, say, “It’s a seamless blend of memoir, fiction, rant, eroticism, porn, a drifter’s travelogue, bon-mot prose, a startling genuine voice storytelling, without gimmick or pose, a novel of thirty-one chapters arranged chronologically backwards with a swarthy skinned narrator of uncertain ethnicity, Walter, Wally, Flick, Tom, whatever, scarred on the outside, wounded on the inside, but out and about across America anyway, like of old, on his own in all ways possible, in the most fundamental ways possible … ” but one suspects the author would be bored already. The book’s intent, like a dog’s on the same old walk, is to stray. A long leash is not enough. The narrative’s going over hill and dale, into backyards, up skirts—and higher. Flick is written in a voice on a mission, but one that doesn’t know, not for the first three hundred pages, what it is.
Flick begins midway through a quixotic adventure going wrong and into hillbilly squalor and degeneracy in Alabama hills and ending on a desolate California beach, and from there goes back to the adventure’s beginning in a decaying New Orleans, a hundred intoxicated pages spinning backwards through twisted relationships to a cheerful Pennsylvania farm for an ordinary girl, though the reader already knows the sexual and emotional crescendo ends without consequence. It’s the intensity and sincerity of what amounted to inconsequentiality that challenges our moral firmament. There are no familiar handholds in Flick, not in the prose, not in the stories. The reader is on his own very much like Flick is, traveling the endless road of a young man adrift across America, living one coming-of-age story after another, but never getting it right, never truly coming of age because in America there’s nothing to come of age to, nothing good.
Before Pennsylvania there was bohemian New York and a mutual, magical passion with a rich Dutch girl chasing Kerouacian dreams, and since we know what became of all that, their words to each other read as illusory, delusional, sometimes desperately so, beautifully so. It all reads true maybe because we, like the characters—because of the book’s structure—seem to, know how it’s all gonna end.
Before New York, there were the oil fields of Wyoming and a romance, a dance with a hooker, and before that, brutal, lonely months working highway construction side-by-side with three Native Americans in New Mexico. These were led to from a satori on the Big Sur coast at which Flick had arrived to from a year given to becoming a writer in Seattle, which he’d got to by leaving behind an athletic scholarship to Indiana University, all of it inexorably going back to his childhood in a Detroit burning down.
The reader gets inklings a hurt is coming, a big hurt, a mythological hurt, but going backwards there is nothing the reader or the narrator or anyone can do it about it, or ought want to do about it, for on the other side of the hurt, there is something the narrator learned as a child, as most children do, those having a rotten time of it, and that’s that there is a thing carried inside like a small, bright-lit cloud and that this is his soul and that his soul isn’t him, and that when he is to die, it will go up to heaven and his body and all he had been will rot in the ground. That’s the deal, and the question is, is it worth protecting and nourishing one’s soul if the price is hurt and a life screwed up again and again and without redemption?