Monday, July 13, 2015


From Alan Prendergast's Westword look at A Western Capitol Hill:

Reading Gregory Daurer's novel A Western Capitol Hill is a bit like taking a long ride on the Number 15 bus — eclectic, disorienting, occasionally appalling, but never dull. Part picaresque, part political spoof, the ebook focuses on unsavory goings-on in the Denver of a decade ago, from the gold dome of the Statehouse to some thinly disguised local bars and restaurants to alleys favored by the dissolute and the homeless, where a serial killer known as the Denver Decapitator plies his trade. And yes, just like in the cheap horror movies favored by legendary drive-in movie-fan Joe Bob Briggs, heads do roll. 
An early scene unfolds on the Colfax bus, where a hapless, heavily medicated passenger sees dragons menacing his town. He's not unlike the pigeons outside the City and County Building — which, we soon learn, are being fed a hallucinogenic drug "used by business property owners to discourage birds from loitering." There's a touch of William S. Burroughs in that kind of humor, and more than a jigger of Hunter S. Thompson, too...
The episodic plot — a series of riffs on yesterday's headlines, including one about a transgendered real estate agent squaring off with a religious-right politician over gay adoptions — seems slightly dated, and the satire is surprisingly gentle. The writing is admirably deadpan overall, but in places could have used the kind of rigorous copyediting that's usually missing from self-published ebooks. (Point of disclosure: Daurer consulted me briefly about Colorado prisons in the course of his research, but I had no input into the actual manuscript.) Still, there are some engaging moments involving a please-like-me, Hickenlooperish mayor named Mockingbird, some artful history and nostalgia concerning such vanished Denver institutions as the downtown Woolworth's, and even a cameo appearance by the ghost of Molly Brown. What's not to like about that?

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