Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed, Chunked and Spewed
A Novel by Lance Carbuncle
Reviewed by Kent Manthie
For those of you who’ve been keeping up on the world of hip, urbane and witty “underground” novels and the people who write them, you are right, I am going backwards: I reviewed Lance Carbuncle’s latest, most recent novel, Grundish and Askew a year or so back; then shortly after that he sent me his first novel to check out and write up something on it if I could. After finishing off the few books I was reading, juggling, so to speak, through them, usually parts of one in the daytime, another one in the evening and then some more of the third right before I go to sleep on a regular evening.
Reading Lance’s first novel, with the extraordinarily verbose title: Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed, Chunked and Spewed, I didn’t have a chance to let any other books get in the way because it was so compelling – well, that and it wasn’t too long either: it runs an easy 266 pages.
So, I saw it sitting there one early evening, then I picked it up to, at the very least, skim through it and see if anything interesting popped out at me, not really knowing what I was going to do with it. What happened instead was, I ended up liking what I was reading so I just kept on going to find out what happens next – and, then the next thing and the next thing and so on, et cetera, and the next thing I notice, I’m already past page 179 and I was still going and kept at it for a while longer until I finished it and it was worth it.
Just as in his latest work, Grundish and Askew it is loaded with hilarious descriptions, observances and also I found so many little lines of dialogue – snippets, if you will – taken from Blue Velvet (“Don’t you fuckin’ look at me…” “Heineken?! Fuck that shit, PABST BLUE RIBBON!” and “one thing I can’t stand is warm fuckin’ beer”); having seen that film about 20 times I instantly recognized it the first time he used one of them, the “Heineken-Pabst” thing. That was pretty cool, I thought. I wonder if anyone else will recognize those lines too. Anyway a little later into the book, he does some more of that kind of thing – I guess you could think of it as “sampling” – like they do in hip-hop/rap and so on. It’d be the same thing, but it’d be silent and used as a literary device not a rap song. There were little snippets of song lyrics and lots and lots of American pop-culture “stuff” throughout.
The main gist of the story is that the first-person style gives us a personal narration of what’s going on, blow-by-blow…account of what’s going on and adds a personal touch to the story and its action. Incidentally – and I had to go back and flip through the book again to double-check, but…- we never do find out the name of the protagonist, since, for one thing, it’s written in first-person narrative style, as I mentioned. Besides the unnamed narrator, though, there is a cavalcade of characters throughout the book where one pops up here, another one pops up there and so forth, which is normal, since the main characters are basically on the road or on the run for the duration of the book. It all takes place between a small town in Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and he, at least – the narrator – has to get back to some small town to “get his soul back” – that he sold, a la Bart Simpson, by writing “so-and so’s soul” on it in exchange for getting laid. But, it turns out that he actually did lose his soul and his beloved dog, Idjit Galoot, a 15-year old Bassett Hound, a breed that, according to our narrator, normally live until about age 12, so this dog’s pretty old. The way Idjit is described doesn’t make him sound all that endearing, but I guess it was still a loyal and good dog to have, plus he’d had it all his life anyway, so it was like his best friend almost. Anyway his mom was rushing him to get the rented moving van that was packed with stuff (including their dead stuffed dad, but you’ll have to read the book for more on that) and when he couldn’t find the dog his mom said she’d get him and bring him down with her. But – oops! – Idjit never does come back or make it back or whatever, but he and the guy’s dead dad both keep appearing in dreams of his, guiding him on his “journey” which ends up being a wild, almost Blues-Brothers-ish wild ride that includes all sorts of interesting people – and featured a lot of greats in cameos, but the similarity ends in that want they’re wanted for is something that was a totally freak accident but made worse by the discovery of what the hitchhiker left in his car when our narrator got a little spooked and ditched the guy at some rest stop but forgot his backpack – uh-oh…but, again, for more you’ll just have to buy the book!
S.S.S.C.C.&S is, bottom line, a very funny “road” book – a de facto adventure, an accidental joyride up through a hurricane in South Florida back up north to first get his “soul” back from the girl he “sold” it to because, his dog was such a loyal pet that it even let his master use his own “chi” to live on until he could get his own soul back and all that was spending up his good dog. Then he had to back and get his dog. Throughout all of it there is a whole hell of a lot more going on in between; it’s a series of veritable freakshows, one after the other, that sidetrack or distract our hero from his mission. He manages to be lucky in that he has some good friends and relatives who help him out and he manages to beat the hurricane out of South Florida, just barely eking out of there on a now-banned all-terrain-cycle (ATC), a three wheeled monster with big behemoth-like tires that got him through a lot of stuff that a regular car wouldn’t have been able to do – drive through ditches, off-roading, et cetera.
It certainly is a great escape for a day or day & ½, depending on how long you spend reading at any given time. As mentioned, it is a very funny book; an irreverent trek through a storm-ravaged (and beyond) wilderness of rednecks and white trash that turn out to be friend and sometimes kin and the people he seems to be with all the time like to party. A lot. So the escapades and the incidents and trips, stops and starts all make for a great plot and it is filled in with lots of interesting ways of looking at things and there are even footnotes, lining the bottom of some pages; they’re not documenting anything or using it to give credit for a quote, like a typical academic text; instead they are there to supplement certain ideas or to buttress arguments, show precedents for certain odd things and other colorful, fun factoids that were not all that important to go into the main text itself, but yet, they’re a unique thing for fiction, a cool literary device and, as the author mentions in his foreword, one can either get into the notes or, if they get in the way of the continuity of the story, you can skip them altogether. Don’t skip this book, though – it is truly a delight and would probably make a good comedy flick -there are plenty of walk on “scenes” that would be perfect for lots of cameo appearances by all kinds of celebrities.
Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed, Chunked and Spewed