A Novel
Denis Johnson
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
I'd tell you the plot but a plot in a detective story doesn't count for beans, try to parse Kiss Me Deadly or The Maltese Falcon. Just stay with Nobody Move long enough because it'll suck you in soon enough with the dialogue, people getting shot and getting killed and getting naked which may or may not come to some kind of fruition. You might want to get out before the end, though, before the thing with the colostomy bag.

Jimmy Luntz --- who tells some people his name is "Franklin Franklin" --- gets people so riled that they vow several times to cut off his nuts and fry them for lunch and gark eat them too. Luntz is a lousy killer, too nervous, can't aim worth shit. All he wants to do he tells Anita is gamble his nights away and waste his days watching TV and drinking diet Coke.

Anita Desilvera watches him throw a gun in the Feather River ... that's how they meet so they are stuck together for (most of) the rest of the book. An Arab named Juarez is trying to find him so he can murder him. His boss, Gambol, the one he shot in the leg, is the one who suggests the mountain oysters eating routine.

Anita shoots her ex ... they claim she stole 2.3 millions in public funds from the Bakersfield city fathers. When she isn't drinking vodka and soda pop she is teaching Jimmy about love. She also spends some time talking to the river gods. I told you these plot reconstructions don't mean squat.

The cover is a kick --- complete with bullet holes. The dialogue here is a rant (and fun) and the outcome is not unexpected but it gives us a run for our money. A couple of nice touches, too: when someone is trying to strangle you to death, according to Johnson, you'll see colors in sequence, beginning with "a brilliant brown, then a mellow purple, then a beautiful color he'd never seen before in which he had everything he needed and all the time in the world to decide what came next." And when you are preparing to shoot someone with a shotgun, when you take the safety off, it makes a "klick-ack" noise which everybody except me apparently knows. Freeze whenever you hear that.

I got through Nobody Move in a couple of hours because I didn't want to linger over the details, especially when we get to the judge's house (he's the one who framed Anita). He is a dignified, white-haired old man, seventy-six, in his wheelchair. Nice clothes. Anita --- who we had gotten rather fond of --- hits him with his colostomy bag. To say that that is a little too much to stomach is an understatement: A full colostomy bag across the face! Come on, Johnson!

At that point we lost interest in Anita. And the book. And the author. And any of his future endeavors.

--- Richard Saturday
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