Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Crooked Little Vein

Mike McGill, private detective and self-described shit magnet, has hit rock bottom of a bottomless pit when in waltzes the president’s heroin-addicted chief of staff with an assignment he literally can’t refuse. They want him to find a book, but not just any book. Two hundred years ago the Founding Fathers were afraid the constitution would not be able to keep human nature in check so they created a “Secret Constitution” with invisible amendments to be deployed at times of crisis. With America being overrun with sexual perverts the White House has decided that that time is now. But the book is missing. And they want Mike to find it. Mike takes off on a trip on America’s darkest, dankest, and most depraved underbelly thus the title, “Crooked Little Vein”.
Crooked Little Vein is Warren Ellis’ first novel and it’s surprisingly short. It’s 277 pages on small paper in larger-than-normal font. As a regular size hardback it would probably come in around 150 pages. Prose is spare and to the point. The plot is also straightforward and enjoyable to boot, basically a humorous detective story. Everything makes for a very quick read, which is a good thing since no one could handle this book in large doses.
Which brings me to an important observation: this book should come a warning label on the front saying, “Not for the faint-of-heart.” But I suppose Warren Ellis’ name serves the same purpose. This novel abounds with all kinds of sexual perversions that the main character has a knack for stumbling into. Many of these moments turn out to be genuinely hilarious, however, many others are purely for shock value. The author has a few actual moments of lucidity where he interposes arguments for and against freedoms that allow such things but it seems tacked on more for plot purposes rather than to serve as an actual debate. Characters are fairly one-dimensional with the protagonist being somewhat infallible, but then that’s to be expected from what I would call shock literature.
Like I previously stated, I suspect that the morality issue was never intended as an actual debate, however there is one argument that really bothered me. There are several instances in which television and the Internet are noted as being mainstream and thus by implication any perversions on either medium are also mainstream. The author never bothers to refute it so it seems that this is his point. And frankly I don’t buy it. Simply because the medium is mainstream does not mean the content is as well. It’s like a car accident; people stop to watch even though someone has been hurt. It’s a horrified fascination but that doesn’t mean a majority of people actually enjoy it themselves.
Final rating: 6.5/10.

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