(Writers Club Press, 235 pages, $14.95, paperback; November 2001.)
Here's a strange one -- and in fact a very good
despite a blizzard of proofing errors and a lack of copy-editing, as
one generally expects from Writers Club/iUniverse books.
Page has AIDS, and decides there's little for her at home in New Jersey;
she might as well hit the road. Sam's problems are almost worse: an
orphan of unknown antecedents, when asleep he is a focus of poltergeist-like
activity, and on waking his physical appearance -- skin colour, hair
colour, etc. -- takes a while to settle down. He also has clairvoyant
bursts, which are reflected in his drawings; and it is these that tell
him he should make his way to Sedona (read Noplace), Arizona. A long
string of foster-parents have been unable to tolerate his freakishness;
when the latest look set to stand idly by while he's murdered by a lynch
mob, he too hits the road -- for Sedona. En route he encounters
Page, and she agrees, on the grounds that she has no other fixed destination
in mind, to go with him to Sedona.
Dan is a psychopathic serial killer. The first of his countless victims
was his elder sister, who came across him eviscerating a pet. But he
believes that just because he killed her doesn't mean she's dead; he
periodically recognizes her among the people around him, and must kill
her all over again. He realizes that Page is the latest "reincarnation"
of his sister, and sets himself to murder her and anyone who gets in
his way. Of course, he has the minor problem of not knowing where she
is, because she's left town for parts unknown; but he kidnaps psychic
Perry and forces her to guide him in pursuit.
On arrival in Sedona, Page and Sam introduce themselves to Scott, an
artist whose painting of one of the local churches has loomed large
in Sam's clairvoyant visions. But Scott proves to be a Satanist who'd
like to sacrifice Page...
But that's probably enough of the plot, and I've not even started on
Uncle Ivan, who's violently rousted from a years-long coma and is likewise
drawn to Sedona, or the bizarre secret within an Arizona mountain that
will unlock the door to the mysteries of Sam's existence.
Dirty Boots is, if you like, the weirdest road movie you ever
came across, a nightmarish comedy that makes one chuckle with guilt.
While reading it I kept thinking of writers whose heyday was in the
1970s or a little earlier -- writers like Richard Brautigan and Richard
Fariña, or even the early Thomas Pynchon -- but really Purfield has
his own voice, and his own distinctly skewed worldview. Despite the
irritations I mentioned at the outset, the fluidity of his prose makes
the pages turn quickly, and the entertainment rarely if ever flags.
It's much to be hoped that a non-vanity press will pick this book up,
edit and proofread it properly, and reissue it in a better edition.
But the book's recommended even in its current form.
Review by John Grant.