cover image A City Dreaming

A City Dreaming

Daniel Polansky. Regan Arts, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-68245-038-3

This offbeat gonzo fantasy attempts to mock American consumerism but prioritizes the bizarre at the expense of both plot and humor. The lead, known simply as M, has the power to change reality; he’s introduced in a present-day Paris tavern, where he’s rewinding a killer’s life to erase every trace of his existence. He returns to New York City and becomes involved in a series of adventures, beginning with a foray to rescue a friend from pirates named Rum, Sodomy, and Lash whose secret code word is “Arggggghhhhhh!” From there, the story line, which builds to a dramatic climax involving the entire metropolis, becomes harder to follow. The author takes pains to poke fun at the urban fantasy genre; he devotes one short chapter to explaining that nothing much happened in a particular month, which may raise a smile but does nothing to sustain any narrative momentum. Mixing such sections with stomach-churning ones, sometimes literally so (“He spent the next few minutes vomiting up unbirthed chunks of existence”), results in a listless mess, rather than a clever tweaking of urban fantasy tropes. (Oct.)