THE LAMENTABLE JOURNEY OF OMAHA BIGELOW INTO THE IMPENETRABLE LOISAIDA JUNGLE

Edgardo Vega Yunque, Author . Overlook $24.95 (350p) ISBN 978-1-58567-630-9

Kicked out by his girlfriend and fired from his job at Kinko's, Omaha Bigelow, the 35-year-old punk rocker at the center of this lively but exasperating allegory, finds himself living on the streets of New York's Lower East Side. When he meets Maruquita Salsipuedes, a 15-year-old whose magical powers can help fix the problem of his very small penis, an unlikely love affair begins and is quickly tested by the appearance of Winnifred Buckley, a rich, beautiful über-WASP who battles Maruquita for Omaha's allegiance. A convoluted morality play ensues, the pleasure and coherence of which is compromised by a first-person narrator who interrupts the story with non sequiturs (e.g., a list of celebrities he finds attractive), speeches (riffs on U.S./Puerto Rico relations are well taken, but much of the commentary on social justice and the degraded state of the novel feels stale) and defensive justifications for the course of the novel ("I'm writing this novel and you're not. I know what I'm doing"). Vega Yunqué (No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew it Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again ) has a keen intelligence, an ear for dialogue and a flair for zany passages of magic realism, but this sprawling, digressive book sinks under the weight of its snazzed-up style. Agent, Thomas Colchie. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/11/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
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