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Serious as a Heart Attack
ISBN: 0743466608

By Louisa Luna
Review by: Jen Lofquist

12/01/04

Synopsis:

Queenie, an out of work calendar proofer (yeah, let that just sift through your grey matter for a bit), meets up with a high school classmate named Hummer and he hires her to find his stripper girlfriend Trigger Happy (because in a strip club, men like to think of shooting off prematurely).

Please read the above again.

Laughing yet? Or are you feeling my pain?

The good news is that since I read it, you don’t have to.

The bad news is that I wanted to like this book. I did like it in fact—for a full twenty minutes. I loved Queenie—for the first twenty minutes. I even forgave her that old cliché of looking in the mirror and describing herself in the first five pages. I let it go. She used the f-word. She was getting fired. I liked her spunk. But then I found out it wasn’t spunk. It was Styrofoam, cleverly painted as spunk. It looked like spunk, but it sure didn’t taste like it, and by God, it didn’t read like it either.

Queenie Sells (yes, all the characters sound like entries in the Kentucky Derby) is a drunk. Not a likable drunk, but a boozy girl who likes to order red eyes (beer and tomato juice, but Queenie got one made with Bloody Mary mix to add that extra tang) at 10 am. Despite her lack of money, after getting fired as a calendar proofer (still wrapping my head around that one) because she had the wrong date for Daylight Savings Time, she finds just enough cash in locating Hummer Fish’s girlfriend to frequent a bar at least twice a day. Lucky for her (and for us), people just seem to tell Queenie things. Like the guy at the strip club who has to tell us (in lurid detail) about his first time touching a woman … there … if you get my drift. That went on for four pages. And we never see him again. Rip Torn shows up. And every once in a while Queenie goes maudlin and starts channeling poor dead Trigger Happy, who the other strippers affectionately call Trig. Oh yeah, Trig’s dead, and Queenie is on the case.

Perhaps the author was trying for humor—a rollicking satire as the back of the book would read. But it didn’t come off. It was too heavy handed, too obvious, too “please laugh here.” Satires work best when they are based in a world with which the reader is familiar. You have to give the readers a comfortable place from which to watch the shenanigans. I never got a comfortable place, so instead I just got annoyed with the forced humor. It just rung false.

If you don’t want to read the book, and I advise that you don’t, I’m going to save you the trouble by telling you Hummer Fish’s dad killed Trigger.

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