cover image Constellation


Greg Mulcahy, Rudolf Steiner. Avisson Press Inc, $13 (153pp) ISBN 978-1-888105-13-1

Despite some good writing and intriguing cast that is, as the back blurb says, ""loosely based"" on the characters in Hamlet (emphasis on loosely), this first novel by the author of the collection Out of Work sacrifices any profundity to a kind of cool anomie. After years of wandering, the protagonist Wayne returns home and is reunited with his brother Bob (""Wayne had an apartment but he did not have a job and he needed money so he went to see his brother.""). Bob, a pill-popping doctor, embarrasses his son, Wolf, and his wife, Colleen, by dressing up in rags and begging for money. Wayne begins encroaching on Bob's house and family until Bob kills himself, at which point Wayne stops sleeping in his '62 Comet and marries Colleen. He and Wolf get rich quick by selling 148 franchises of their gun store, Total Security, then move into communications to air ""Home Security Network Theater"" and ""Family Solutions."" These ill-fated TV programs evolve into the ""Bear Dog Theater,"" starring Sponge the Drunken Dog, a mutt who ingests gin, gasoline, charcoal briquettes and insecticide on television. With Wayne's health failing, what follows is a surreal journey in and out of his demented mind, a series of snapshots of Colleen's past and the chronicle of Wolf's paranoid struggle with angered franchisees. Unfortunately, darkness is not always depth, and a fast, telegraphic style (""--The swine, Wolf said. --Believe they're cows, Bill Said. --Sacred, do you think? Colleen said"") is not necessarily propulsive. (Aug.)