Chocolate Lizards

Cole Thompson, Author
Cole Thompson, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-20052-7
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Despite his best efforts to make this a madcap, oil-well-drilling, West Texas romp, Thompson's debut novel is an uneven mix of bad jokes, cowboy cliches and unconvincing characters. Erwin Vandeveer is a movie star wannabe from Boston, a spoiled, naive young Harvard grad who was a failure in Hollywood, and who is now stuck in Abilene, Tex., broke and discouraged. Erwin links up with Merle Luskey, a wacky, drunken Texas oilman who is about to lose his drilling business due to a bank foreclosure. The two unlikely partners have just 30 days to strike oil and save the company. Opposed by a crooked banker and a fat, corrupt, sadistic sheriff, Merle and Erwin embark on a string of harebrained schemes to pay off the bad loans and stay solvent. But Merle is an unpredictable lush who gets both of them into trouble--on the order of burglary, forgery, kidnapping and industrial espionage. Aided by an aging tart named Miss Tex-Ann Big-Love and by goofy, porn-loving old cattle rancher Alton Scheermeyer, Merle and Erwin come up with a plan that just might work. The author presents unflattering and unfunny stereotypes of Texans and Yankees alike. Handsome Erwin is just too hoity-toity for the rough and tumble Texas oil fields, and the Texans here are mainly ignorant, foul-mouthed, whiskey-drinking rednecks. Abandoning its early promise of humor and adventure, this story winds up as flat and dry as West Texas itself. (Apr.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!