Robert de Niro near the end of Taxi Driver. Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Portraits of men pushed to the edge of extreme violence in the crowded apathy and bustle of the city. Artist, musician and author Garrett Diamond takes that idea to new heights -- or, more aptly, depths -- in his debut novel, Crashing Out in the Alphabets. Forget about pushing the envelope of acceptability that is mainstream fiction. Diamond crams that envelope with force right down the maw of a cross-cut paper shredder. Written in fast-forward, Crashing Out in the Alphabets is a high-speed rant of a novel, visceral and vulgar.
It will shock most readers; those more accustomed to ultra-edginess will likely find it an amusing (and quick) read.
Cartoon animator Kevin Nelson lives a pretty empty life, but he knows three things. One, he wants to write and produce his own animated short. Two, he hates his boss. Three, he loves Lucy, a crack-addicted prostitute who quickly moves in to his pigsty of an apartment, where they proceed to have lots of lurid sex. When Lucy dies of an overdose, the already imbalanced and alcoholic Kevin flies into a tailspin of drunken despair and rage. Aiming for the top spot at the company where he works, Cartoon City, he invites his boss out for a jog in the park, where he promptly shoots the man in the head.
Unfortunately for Kevin, the head position is given to a woman in the company. Between profanity-strewn rants against his coworkers, dive-bar patrons and almost every woman he meets, the increasingly psychotic cartoonist begins offing everyone who stands in his way, salving his pain and anger with cheap booze and appallingly cheap women. In the midst of all this, despite his rather inelegant pickup techniques, Kevin somehow manages to fall in love with the Cartoon City web designer. Even more surprisingly, she loves him. Yet what should make Kevin happy (or at least slightly less unhappy) only serves to fuel the fires of psychosis already burning inside him.
Some compare Crashing Out in the Alphabets to works by such contemporary literary stars as Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson. Diamond's debut, however, is on a whole 'nother level than the hallucinogenic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or the spookily anti-heroic American Psycho. There's little description or exposition to clutter Kevin's running anti-everything-and-everybody diatribe. Crashing Out in the Alphabets strives to attain a darkly unsettling humor -- especially the "love" scenes, although you've got to be able to be amused by the "Letters" column in Penthouse magazine to get the, er, jokes. While definitely not for everyone due to extremely graphic sexual situations and language, Crashing Out in the Alphabets will appeal to an audience segment well off the mainstream.