(Del Rey, $14.95, 531 pages, trade paperback; published in August 2004.)
The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, a first novel by Canadianauthor and broadcaster Minister Faust, is a sprawling supernatural adventure set in Edmonton, Alberta.
Roommates and long-time best friends Hamza, a tormented semi-lapsed Black Muslim with the strange ability to find anything anywhere, and Yehat, a hedonistic atheist with a penchant for building outrageous machines, are the Coyote Kings: geek-culture connoisseurs; genius misfits working minimum-wage dead-end jobs; and founders of the Coyote Camp, a learning and creative get-together for neighbourhood children.
The Coyote Kings' routine is disrupted when Hamza falls desperately in love with Sherem, a seductive woman with a hidden agenda. Soon, the Coyotes find themselves caught in the middle of a mystical conflict that dates back to the dawn of humanity. The stakes are both immense and confused, as the different players all lie and the two friends have no way to discern the truth.
Faust's novel constructs its own reality -- one in which Alberta is a nexus for cannibal cultists, secret histories, magic, and superpowered villains -- with a twisted but loving take on superhero comics logic.
The Coyote Kings speak in a rich blend of Canadian Black culture, comics, and science-fiction references. Every chapter is narrated in the first person, so readers are exposed to a relentless flow of this inventive language. The Coyotes luxuriate in creating their own words, sometimes by combining existing words with arcane cultural references -- e.g., "behemothra" -- other times by crafting neologisms inspired by previous events in the book. It's deliriously charming and completely absorbing. Some chapters are narrated by characters other than Hamza or Yehat, and they, too, bring their own dialectic eccentricities to the text.
Faust's novel explodes with exuberant ideas, creepy adventure, intense emotions, and linguistic derring-do. Every page is pure pleasure.
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© Claude Lalumière 9 October 2004, 29 January 2005