I just received my hardcover copy of ex-Bookninja Peter Darbyshire’s The Warhol Gang, available now from HarperCollins. It’s a thing of great beauty. And it’s a fantastic novel. I read it a few months ago in ARCs and I was blown away by the “reality” of Pete’s unreal world. Here’s the copy:
Trotsky works for a neuromarketing company that scans his brain to test new products. Only his name isn’t really Trotsky — that’s a code name he’s forced to use. And the products aren’t real — they’re hologram prototypes. Trapped in an increasingly artificial world that leaves him haunted by hallucinations, Trotsky goes to accident scenes at night in search of something genuine. Instead, he finds Holiday, a wannabe actress who fakes accidents for insurance settlements but who dreams of stardom. She leads him to the Resistance, a violent underground society living in a forgotten space in the mall that runs throughout the city. But when an encounter with a troubled cop turns deadly, the group is discovered by the media and dubbed “The Warhol Gang.” At first Holiday and Trotsky embrace their notoriety, but they’re forced to confront their own desires and differences when the gang takes on a life of its own and the body count rises.
The Warhol Gang is an absurdist tale for an age of absurdism, a black comedy for anyone who’s ever been trapped in an endless mall or fantasized about wiping out everyone in the office.
So consuming and frightening and lingering. I still think about it like it’s a transparent sheet laid down over our world. It truly is a book for our time. Brutal, funny, and scary. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times reading it, and winced a dozen more. For a crossroads comparison, I say Denis Johnson stomping Chuck Palahniuk into William Gibson while Kurt Vonnegut cheers him on. You have to read it.