Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mystery Girl by David Gordon



Mystery Girl
Author David Gordon
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Sam Kornberg is a failed novelist living in L.A. with a collapsing marriage. Desperate for work, he becomes the assistant to a portly, housebound detective named Solar Lonsky. His assignment to track a mysterious woman is the trigger for a tense, smart, and often screamingly funny story involving sexy doppelgangers, insane asylums, south-of-the-border shootouts, mistaken identities, video-store-geekery, and the death of the novel.  

Review: Mystery Girl proves humor can be sophisticated. In this smart, witty novel by David Gordon you can expect to be taken on a ride not only in plot, but by a style that is delivered with authentic prose and perfectly placed comedic timing. The main character's sense of humor, self-deploring behavior and 'the world is a weird place' observations will make pulp fiction fans snort with glee. This is a wonderful journey into the imagined artistic world of L.A. where struggle and fame are constantly dirty neighbors. 

For those looking for improved character development in novels, Mystery Girl provides an excellent example. Each character is hashed, thrashed and mashed out. Everything we need to know about a character is incorporated into the story-telling, making use of setting, dialogue, association, job, habits and physical characteristics -- nothing is missed, nothing is unimportant or extraneous. Even the sub-characters are fully-developed, thus, creating a clear vision for the reader to manipulate. They're also connected by a six-degrees of separation before coming full circle to form a fantastic ending.  

Even though this mystery brilliantly makes use of humor, it is serious on several levels.  At first glance, it appears the author might have randomly drawn from a story machine exercise. Create a story using: doppelgangers, a video-store clerk, a reclusive obese detective, a wanna-be-novelist and divorce. Despite the juicy elements, this book provokes intelligent contemplation spanning the pages. Such as, the death of the novel or writing in general, stereotypes, insecurities, exploitation and mental illness. 

In the end, the big question of 'Who are we?' is a fun philosophical goodie that this book offers. As Sam and Lala stare at each other, you can't help but wonder if anything has been accomplished or answered. Does it take something like the events in the book for people to figure it out, or is it all meaningless in the end. What matters and what doesn't? And, good God, the death of the novel is depressing. Lucky for us, it's been dying for a really long time.
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*ARC provided by New Harvest courtesy of Amazon Vine

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