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South of the Pumphouse
Publishing House: Akashic Books
WorkNameSort: South of the Pumphouse
It's a lovely California day in 1995, and two mild-mannered brothers are embarking on their first El Sobrante fishing trip together in years: Ed, who escaped to progressive Berkeley, higher education and middle-class fatherhood; and Earl, who settled snugly into both this dead-end, blue-collar burg they grew up in and a manageable meth addiction. They're joined by happily misogynist Donny ' Earl's best friend and Ed's longtime antagonist ' and prior to setting sail, Earl and Donny get blasted on crank while Ed gobbles a handful of shrooms. Primus frontman/bassist Claypool's first novel reads like an ace Quentin Tarantino screenplay; permeating all the childhood flashbacks, prolonged cultural arguments, profane small talk, hallucinations, conspiracy theorizing and fishing lore/minutiae is a hollow dread, the sense that some horror will befall someone before long. It strikes suddenly and bloodily, and when it does, Claypool's authorial shortcomings ' excess exposition and wordiness, a sometimes awkward narrative flow ' are forgiven in a flash.