cover image Fountain


Tote Hughes. Miami Univ., $15 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-881163-55-8

When columnist Pin Charfo finds a mysterious note by his bed, he sets out on an absurdist, episodic quest. But plot%E2%80%94or a clear resolution of mysteries%E2%80%94is not the point of Hughes's surreal novel. Instead, in this first-person narrative told in Charfo's voice, the journey becomes the reward. Charfo takes readers on a trip through dreamlike atmospherics, quirky jokes, odd adventures, and his own philosophical musings. Readers experience the topsy-turvy sense of having landed in media res in a strange world without knowledge of the landmarks. In loosely connected episodes, Charfo searches out "disreputable prints," resists his girlfriend's plan for him to come to a costume party as a wizard, and learns that a man named Bernsey is accusing him of plagiarizing a manifesto. After dodging a "shower of screeching rats" pouring from a mattress that's thrown out of a tenement window, he and his friend Grel get lost in a sailboat in an enormous flooded basement. And as he makes his way through his imaginary city, Charfo learns more about the mysterious manifesto. This is an intelligent, perceptive novel, but it leaves the reader adrift. (Dec.)