The Pickle Index

Eli Horowitz. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-53581-0
Horowitz (The Silent History) weaves a strange tale about an eccentric group of circus performers who operate within the borders of a zany, obscure, and vaguely East-European country that prides itself on its pickles and pickle recipes. When ringmaster Zloty Kornblatt is arrested for “antagonistic fomentation with a side of gratuitous slapstickery” (i.e., inspiring laughter), the other members of the circus troupe conspire to break Zloty out of his prison cell at the top of the Confinement Needle before his impending execution at Termination Field. The various talents of the troupe, ranging from the strongman to acrobat to knife-dodger, aid in their daring rescue plan. The pickle index itself is shown to be a sort of teletype, a scrolling index for “citizen-to-citizen fermentation-recipe exchange.” And the Prime Mother of the pickled land, Madame J, travels with a Javanese octopus named Simeon who must be regularly spritzed with saline solution. While Horowitz certainly generates some laughs, as a sustained work of fiction, the whole conceit wears thin and the characters feel more like jokey caricatures. It is an absurd and whimsical story, a novel of pure invention, marked by Horowitz’s obvious delight in devising weird names, outlandish pickled-food recipes, and bizarre judicial practices. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/21/2015
Release date: 11/03/2015
Genre: Fiction
Boxed Set - 248 pages - 978-0-9962608-0-0
Ebook - 978-0-374-71422-2
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