By Troy Patterson
June 13, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Everyone's Burning

B-
type
  • Book
Genre

‘I knew I was getting somewhere with the drinking when the superpowers started kicking in.’ From that opening sentence–patterned after that of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas–Spiegelman’s first novel shapes up as a pastiche of lit lit. The story may be about Leon Koch, a 23-year-old wastoid getting numb on booze, coke, and then some more booze in Bayside, Queens, but the book is mostly a mood piece evoking Frederick Exley, Bret Easton Ellis, Charles Bukowski, Arthur Rimbaud, and the tightest Hemingway. The tingling astringency of Spiegelman’s sentences bodes well for his future but cannot disguise this work’s essential plotlessness, its gratuitous excesses (the hallucinations, the analingus), or the overwhelming dullness of getting subhumanly wrecked night after night.

Everyone's Burning

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