Thursday, April 24, 2008

BOOK: Crooked Little Vein

My far-distant buddy, Kevin B, sniped Warren Ellis' Crooked Little Vein off my Amazon wish list last month. I finished it this past weekend.

Warren usually writes comics. He is also quite a prolific web celebrity. He is bleak, timely, and extremely knowledgeable about all manner of subculture trivia. He's an Information Age, technophillic, self-promoting Aleister Crowley. And I'm quite fond of his writing.

Crooked Little Vein is Ellis' first novel. It isn't a comic. It isn't for the kiddies. And prudish adults should likely steer clear of it, too. It contains lots of offensive material. Lots of it. Naughtiness at every turn. Right Wing Conservatives and Fans Of Bush should avoid this one.

It is a dark tale of adventure centering around pseudo-detective Mike McGill and his attempt to reclaim a lost tome. A legendary book that has special interest to the current Presidential administration. As is usually the theme, the journey is more important than the actual reward. And what a twisted journey it is. Ellis spins a web of shady characters that would be more at home in Malebolge of Dante's Hell than in the light of day.

Mike McGill is a spewing fountainhead of bad karma. If something bad happens, it happens to Mike. If there's a villain in the area with a raging hate-on, his first victim is likely to be Mike. If there's one plague-infected mosquito in a room full of people with Mike, he'll be the only person bitten. And of course, he'll have TB coursing through his veins before the end of the chapter.

Ellis' writing is very crisp and clean. He doesn't stay in one place too long. He doesn't drag out any points or wax poetic on any deeply philosophical themes. The pacing is quick. The characters are mildly shallow, but entertaining. And while I thought I was substantially well read, Ellis completely baffled me with some of the kinks and addictions he presented in Crooked Little Vein. If I didn't know any better, I'd think he was bluffing. But saline injecting juice monkeys are so unbelievably sickening, they must be real, or Ellis wouldn't torment me with them.

Quick. Entertaining. Funny. Creative. Enlightening. All in all, a very enjoyable read. I hope Warren Ellis produces more dark adventures for my perusal.

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