cover image Go Home, Ricky!

Go Home, Ricky!

Gene Kwak. Overlook, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5361-9

Kwak’s acerbic and hilarious hyper-masculine debut picaresque follows the adventures of Ricky Twohatchet, born Richard Powell, a semi-professional wrestler who’s searching for his father. Once a rising star, Ricky watches as his career falls apart after a debilitating neck injury at the age of 25 during a match gone wrong, a fall further cemented by an out-of-context viral video of him screaming “Fuck you, America!” His life in Omaha, Nebr., continues to crumble thanks to a dispute with his pregnant lover over an abortion that leads to an abrupt breakup. Left without much purpose, Ricky decides to search for Jeremiah Twohatchet, the man who courted his mother and then abandoned her before he was born. Kwak manages to enamor the reader with a protagonist whose Reagan-era machismo would likely turn off an audience of the social media age; so much of the hilarity ensues from his brusque skewering of modern millennial culture. (“Fuck QR codes,” he pithily says at one point.) As a prose stylist, Kwak is impeccable. Every sentence is explosive, energetic, confident and hyper-polished, as if meant to be shouted proudly in a stadium of thousands. Readers might be surprised to find, in Ricky Twohatchet, an enduring voice. Agent: Sarah Bowlin, Aevitas Creative Management. (Oct.)