cover image The Octopus on My Head

The Octopus on My Head

Dennis McMillan, Jim Nisbet, The Octopus on My HeadJim Nis. , $35 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-939767-57-1

Black tar heroin and murder infuse this quirky, highly literary novel, as smalltime San Francisco guitarist Curly Watkins finds himself dragged into some shady repo business. Hundreds of dollars for a quick job is too much to pass up, even though the offer comes via junkie Ivy Pruitt and his ex-girlfriend and heroin connection, Lavinia Hahn. Curly, his shaved head brightly tattooed with an octopus, keeps them company as they wander around the Bay Area looking for new thrills. The plot kicks up several surprising notches when the doped-up heroes find a corpse loaded with cash in a warehouse and encounter the serial killer who put him there. Poet and novelist Nisbet (Dark Companion ) offers perfect descriptions of the addict's world, but the endless dialogue among the startlingly well-educated characters drifts toward the precious (“ 'After you starve to death,' she cooed, 'can I have your library?' ”). The gist is Jack Kerouac writing Hannibal Lecter: not completely successful, but entertaining in its kooky way. (Oct.)