Neon Lit: Perdita Durango

Bob Callahan, Author, Scott Gillis, Illustrator
Bob Callahan, Author, Scott Gillis, Illustrator Harper Perennial $12.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-380-77109-7
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A quirky, violent exercise in lowlife Tex-Mex noir, this second book-length comic to be released in Avon's Neon Lit series (series design by Art Spiegelman) is an adaptation of a novella from Gifford's Sailor's Holiday. Perdita is one tough half-breed prostitute, unsentimental and ruthless (``the only two real pleasures left on earth are fucking and killing''), wandering around the Southwest before finally teaming up with Romeo Dolorosa a quasi-mystic Jamaican drug dealer in New Orleans. This strangely engaging twosome is hired to drive a shipment of cocaine to L.A., and along the way they commit a ritualistic murder and take a young Anglo couple hostage--both at Perdita's coolly pernicious insistence. As this road trip snakes through a memorable array of truck stops, cheap nightclubs and trashy motels, Perdita and Romeo exchange vivid but morbid reflections on life with their fearfully attentive prisoners and they slowly become more like reluctant companions than captors and captives. Callahan's adaptation has recreated an irresistible atmosphere of petty crime, moral sleaze and arbitrarily exotic, debased cultural amalgamation, all of which is effectively captured by Gillis's dramatically composed, sensuously etched scratchboard drawings. The book concludes with an interview with Barry Gifford. (Nov.)
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