The Sabotage Café
Review by Richard von Busack
Aaron Cometbus' Last Gasp–published book Double Duce is probably the best novel about the ecstasy of being a gutter punk. This debut novel by New York's Joshua Furst, which is insider enough to name-check Cometbus, is probably the best book about that life's agony. And Furst constructs a serenely tragic frame for its story: Teenage runaway Cheryl drops into Minneapolis' hipster ghetto Dinkytown in search of a squat. You can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool Mom. Back in the suburbs, Cheryl's mother, Julia, a manic-depressive, can watch her daughter's downfall through a sort of psychic television. Cheryl unconsciously retraces her mother's steps. Twenty years earlier, before Julia became a bloated, lonely housewife, she was enough of a scenester to have walked these streets and had a song written about her by a then-popular band. In this double-visioned story of past and present, Furst puts himself into the mind of a girl gradually realizing that she has entered a world of petty theft, childish malice and "ives degenerated into lifestyles." The author, uninterested in preaching or shock value, finds moments of physical passion and exuberance in this falling-down life. He puts himself into the mind of his two heroines so well, you wonder if he has some sort of psychic television himself.
(By Joshua Furst; Knopf; 266 pages; $23.95 cloth)
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