cover image The Patricidal Bedside Companion

The Patricidal Bedside Companion

K. S. Haddock. St. Martin's Press, $12.95 (199pp) ISBN 978-0-312-10522-8

This free-flowing first novel has a great deal of off-the-wall charm, as well as its share of problems. Riley O'Dunnough, recently graduated from college and unhappily employed at his father's organizational development firm, meets his cynical soulmate, fellow Nietzsche lover Tara Dominique. The two engage in a series of ever-escalating, mostly sexually oriented dares; in one, Riley visits a gay bar and Tara deliberately makes a scene by dragging him out by the hair. At the same time, Riley is toying with the notion of killing his father and dreams up a plan to poison his lip balm. Haddock creates the perfect voice for narrator Riley, who rambles from discussing traffic to recalling a dead body he found as a boy without missing a beat and gets off plenty of clever lines in between bouts of drug and alcohol abuse. His very attitude is confusing, however. It is never clear why Riley wants to kill his father, except that O'Dunnough senior is not particularly ethical and Riley believes that his father's call for drug-testing at work is aimed at him. Also, many of his escapades with Tara seem silly. Finally, magazine-style pullquotes from the text seem randomly chosen and distracting rather than useful. (Feb.)