cover image Dogrun


Arthur Nersesian. MTV Books, $14 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-671-77542-1

When Mary Bellanova finds her live-in boyfriend, Primo, dead on the couch in her New York City apartment, she is catapulted into a manic quest for the truth about his life in this lightweight, plot-driven, downtown grunge novel. Primo was an enigmatic drifter, author of a pornographic novel and ex-lover of an eclectic collection of girlfriends; it seems he even had a child. Mary's own life is nothing to write home about. She's 29 years old and has been working a succession of temp jobs while making fitful attempts at finishing a collection of short stories. On Primo's trail, she stumbles into a series of new adventures. In search of one of Primo's many ex-girlfriends, she arrives at a band audition and accidentally becomes a bassist in an all-woman band, the Beautiful and the Crazy. Other forays land her dates with a toe-sucking foot fetishizer and a borderline rapist. Finally, she meets a marginally more suitable tattooed hipster while walking Primo's dog, Numb. Meanwhile, she is being wined and dined by Joey, an older man who once lived next door to her parents in New Jersey. As it happens, it is Joey, and not Primo, whose secrets will ultimately matter the most to Mary. As the coincidences mount, Mary tries to make sense of them, ultimately realizing that life is just ""a series of battles and treaties."" Nersesian (The Fuck-up) knows downtown Manhattan's East Village life better than most, and his characters are instantly recognizable, if somewhat cartoonish. But his tongue-in-cheek humor and uneven prose may limit the novel's readership to the slacker denizens it chronicles. (Oct.)