Whispering Bodies

Jesse Michaels. Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-59376-530-9
Michaels, best known as the front man of Operation Ivy, trades character for caricature and satire for slapstick in this disappointing debut novel. Roy Belkin is "47 years old. Bald, skinny and pockmarked" and "a man who was likely to be overlooked in most situations" as he hides away in his apartment, posting spurious comments to "Helping Hands," a spirituality message board. After a short shopping trip, he arrives at his apartment to find fire trucks outside, learns a body has been found, and from there is dragged along a wacky chain of events to clear the name of Pernice Balfour, whom he falls for the moment he sees her. The novel is riddled with flat notes, especially when Michaels attempts observational humor or tries to express Roy's love for Pernice though internal monologue. The descriptive prose is often flat and vague, never quite capturing Roy's San Francisco surroundings or rendering a believable world for the zany characters to inhabit. This is a forced and juvenile attempt at satire that falls flat. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 226 pages - 978-1-59376-566-8
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