Hair-trigger

Trevor Clark. Now Or Never (LitDistCo, North American dist.), $17.95 trade paper (158p) ISBN 978-1-926942-62-9
Populated by cons, strippers, and hoods, Clark's (Dragging the River) third novel makes no attempt to air-brush this portrait of life in Toronto. The book begins with Derek Rowe, high, negotiating a phone call from the cops, and relentlessly follows the book-store manager become bank-robber through a series of violent and/or sexy misadventures. The author focuses on Derek, Jack Lofton, and Robert O'Hara, who roar around looking to get by, get high, and get laid. The pared-down narrative style does not detract from the complexity of the anti-heroes; Derek, for example, can be a good guy—he wingmans for Jack to great effect—but any affection for this character must include a tolerance for ceaseless racism and ruthless womanizing. Whether he is stalking a woman down the streets at night or picking "naïfs" up in bars, Derek appears to be a man obsessed. Happily, this provides the author with the setting for the most sparklingly brilliant episode of social commentary in the novel, Clark's obvious forté. Unflinching, unapologetic and fast-paced, the book switches effortlessly through unreliable narrators, demanding that the reader parse truth from fiction, good from bad, right from wrong. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/12/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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