cover image Gonzo Girl

Gonzo Girl

Cheryl Della Pietra. S&S/Touchstone, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0014-7

In this fictional debut from Della Pietra, who once served as an assistant to Hunter S. Thompson, ambitious Alley Russo subjects herself to a washed-up iconic writer’s drink-and-drug-fueled mood swings and the dangerously decadent lifestyle he can’t really afford. With her salary contingent on getting the writer, Walker Reade, to deliver his latest novel, and enticed by the possibility of making connections to publish her own writing, Alley leaves her family in Connecticut to work for Walker on his Colorado ranch. By turns fun and mean, 52-year-old Walker dates women half his age and engages in daily shenanigans to keep up his rebel image. Alley is disappointed to learn that Walker’s well has run dry as he pecks out the occasional page of drivel. Without thinking through the possible fallout, she takes it upon herself to edit and rewrite his work before sending it to his editor, who likes the final product. Further complicating matters is the toxic codependent haze initiated by Walker’s long-time assistant, Claudia Reynolds. While the novel dishes out plenty of illicit good times, Della Pietra also manages to bring moments of poignancy to the narrative. Though the tedium of excess might be the point, it’s an occasional slog to read through pages of druggy nonconversation. But there are far more engaging moments than dull ones, and Della Pietra ultimately steers her story to a believable, satisfying, and moving conclusion. (July)