Maverick Jetpants in the City of Quality

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)

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One Response to “Maverick Jetpants in the City of Quality”

  1. YA?Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, has gotten a bum rap. Her mother is embarrassed and repulsed by her bright-green baby with shark’s teeth and an aversion to water. At college, the coed experiences disapproval and rejection by her roommate, Glinda, a silly girl interested only in clothes, money, and popularity. Elphaba is a serious and inquisitive student. When she learns that the Wizard of Oz is politically corrupt and causing economic ruin, Elphaba finds a sense of purpose to her life?to stop him and to restore harmony and prosperity to the land. A Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and an unknown species called a “Dorothy” appear in very small roles… The story presents Elphaba in a sympathetic and empathetic manner-readers will want her to triumph! The conclusion, however, is the same as L. Frank Baum’s. The book has both idealism and cynicism in its discussion of social, religious, educational, and political issues present in Oz, and, more pointedly, present in our day and time. The idealism is whimsical and engaging; the cynicism is biting. Sometimes the earthy language seems appropriate and adds to the sense of place; sometimes the four-letter words and sexual explicitness distract from the charm of the tale. The multiple threads to the plot proceed unevenly, so that the pace of the story jumps rather than moves steadily forward. Wicked is not an easy rereading of The Wizard of Oz. It is for good readers who like satire, and love exceedingly imaginative and clever fantasy.?Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VACopyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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