cover image Maverick Jetpants in the City of Quality

Maverick Jetpants in the City of Quality

Bill Peters. Black Balloon (Consortium, dist.), $14 trade paper (290p) ISBN 978-1-936787-02-9

After graduating from high school on the eve of the millennium, childhood pals Nate and Necro lead a small band of friends through angst-ridden late-night crawls in decaying Rochester, N.Y., where Peters grew up. This proves to be a particularly dangerous occupation, as someone is blowing up local buildings in what is being called in some papers a "race-war amalgamation." The group's routine is cut short when, while exploring a derelict building, an explosion injures one of their own. Soon, a pattern emerges in the blazes, and someone in the group is implicated, threatening to blow the tight group of friends apart. Domestic terrorism, absent fathers, and real estate all play a part in the twists and turns leading to the truth about the fires. This story could have been disjointed, but Peters' prose is powerful enough to bring the reader along. A rich slang employed by the friends is a central feature of the novel. Such phrases as "Colonel Hellstache," "pinning bowties on the dead," and "fires gone wild Runaway Cockdrama" become a private language signaling the group's alienation from the Rochester community. They are the smart, weird, wounded boys of countless small towns. By turns funny and moving, this debut richly captures life in a decaying American city. (Oct.)