Our Napoleon in Rags

Kirby Gann, Author
Kirby Gann, Author Ig Publishing $14.95 (250p) ISBN 978-0-9752517-3-7
Reviewed on: 04/04/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Ebook - 250 pages - 978-1-935439-45-5
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Haycraft Keebler, the manic-depressive protagonist of Gann's ambitious second novel (following The Barbarian Parade), believes that it is his duty to save the world. Spending most of his time in a rundown bar appropriately named the Don Quixote, Haycraft devises plans to cure society's ills, from spray-painting the city's trashcans gold to creating a ""community living room"" in the middle of the sidewalk. The regulars at the Don Q, all idealistic misfits in their own ways, affectionately tolerate Haycraft's crazy schemes and outraged polemics, but when he becomes romantically involved with a teenage male prostitute, a disastrous chain of events ensues that throws the community into chaos. Gann explores the lives of various Don Quixote frequenters, including the bar's ageing hippie owners and the pragmatic Romeo, who stumbles into the Internet porn industry. Unfortunately, the plot is disjointed and, until the end, seemingly lacking in direction. Gann's elegant prose perfectly captures the novel's sense of doomed romanticism, but his imaginative characters lack realism, which keeps readers at an emotional distance. Ultimately, this beautifully written novel about lofty ideals and inevitable disappointments mirrors its own themes-it fails to achieve all its goals, but is nonetheless commendable for the valiant effort.
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