Maverick Jetpants in the City of Quality, Bill Peters, 290 pages, Black Balloon Publishing, blackballoonpublishing.com, $14.00.
In that netherworld between graduating high school and trying to figure out what to do with your life, Nate and his friends Lip Cheese, Necro, Toby and Wicked College John pass the time driving the “Vomit Cruiser” around Rochester, shooting the shit in typical early 20s purgatory.
But when Wicked College John is injured in the first of what becomes a string of local bombings and one of their group is implicated, this angst-ridden group of road dogs is torn apart amidst secrets, lies and suspicion and Maverick Jetpants soon takes flight.
The densely packed self-referential prose of Bill Peter’s novel will have you struggling to catch up to its “too cool for school” aesthetic. The fairly straightforward plot is less generic due to ’90s pop culture references (anyone remember Party of Five?) and idiosyncratic slang (examples include “Colonel Hellstache”, “Pinning bowties on the dead” and “Fires gone wild runaway cockdrama”) used by the group to punctuate every second word.
Look, everybody enjoys the biting wit and humour of a well placed pop cultural reference or original expression, but when you constantly have to dig through the literary clutter to get to the plot, something is seriously wrong.
Peter’s nostalgia for his hometown and the cigarette pit punks he used to hang out with is endearingly unmistakable, but sometimes he tries to ram it down our throats a little too often. (Aaron Broverman)