The Ring Game

Pete Hautman, Author
Pete Hautman, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-83242-5
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 12/01/1941
In relating this violent, very Midwestern comedy of errors, Hautman (Mortal Nuts) adopts a deadpan tone that has a few too many flat moments. The trouble begins when Alex Speeter, putative stepfather of Carmen Roman, asks out-of-work poker shark Joe Crow to check out Carmen's fiance, Hyatt Hilton. (Hautman names his characters--among them Flowrean Peeche, ""properly pronounced `Puh-shay'""--like a stoned, Pynchon-reading Garrison Keillor.) Joe asks around about Hilton, a distributor of fake Evian water and co-founder of the very for-profit Amaranthine Church of One, and discovers that he's planning a spectacular putsch against the church's current leaders, Rupert Chandra and Polyhymnia Desimmone. Hilton's goofy plan is kept secret through most of the book; it turns out to be a pip and goes, of course, amazingly awry. Despite subplots involving plenty of Twin Cities eccentrics (Joe's semi-estranged hipster girlfriend, Laura Debrowski; steroid-crazed homicidal bodybuilder Beaut (ne Leslie) Miller; and Joe's smitten admirer, race-changing Flowrean), the novel's cartoon violence and rather nasty ending steers Hautman out of Wobegon territory into a universe that might have been cooked up by the Coen brothers. Author tour. (Oct.)
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