PLAINCLOTHES NAKED by Jerry Stahl
AUTHOR AUTOGRAPHED TRADE PAPER
First Thus, trade paperback edition, fine in pictorial wraps, signed by the author, remainder marked.
2002 NY: HarperCollins
Wanton violence. Crushing drug addiction. Sexual abuse. It's the world according to Stahl, back with a third tale of whacked-out people in a whacked-out world (after Perv A Love Story and a memoir, Permanent Midnight). The story plays out around the search for a photograph of George W. Bush having kinky sex with the mayor of a small town outside Pittsburgh. The photo was once in the possession of Tony Zank, a local crackhead who is desperately trying to get it back. Along with his partner, a wanted shovel-murderer named McCardle, Zank leaves a path of freakish, carnal destruction, eventually attracting the attention of Manny Rubert, a police detective with a serious codeine addiction. Rubert has his own reason for wanting the photo. He's the mayor's ex-husband and is curious how and why she did for President Bush what she'd never do for him. Several other misfits including a comically inept police chief and an alluring young woman who once force-fed her husband Drano and crushed glass inhabit the outer edges of the careening, overdeveloped plot. Stahl's talent for supplying a cast of mean yet oddly moving characters is evident, as is his talent for creating tactile, unsettling images. Knife wounds open up "like a wet pair of lips." Bedridden yet still-amorous old ladies whip back the sheets, "revealing seven decades of thigh." It comes all at once the comedy, the tragedy and, always, the vulgarity.