Rue de la Pompe, by James Earle McCracken
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.
Michael Whyte is an American living in Paris. On his thirtieth birthday, he finds a receipt in his pocket for dry cleaning that he doesn’t remember dropping off. Upon collection, he finds a tuxedo perfectly fitted to his specifications, with a mysterious coin in place of a top button. At home he finds a printed invitation to a party upstairs. He goes to the party and thus begins a fantastic journey where time warps and irate concierges chase him across town and the same woman shows up in different professions throughout the story. Michael is faced with the task of discerning which of the crazy cast of characters is telling him the truth and how to accomplish the tasks they set before him in order to get his life back to normal.
I liked this unique book. It was smart and witty – once I got used to the style of the writing. For one thing, Michael has several inner voices (Mr. Whyte, Mikey, Smart Ass, Jackass, and Dumb Ass) that all speak inside his head throughout the book. Also, the humor is pretty biting. For another thing, I’ve never read a book like this before. It starts out as kind of general modern literary fiction and then quickly becomes sort of fantasy/science fictionish – but not too fantastical. I think that is why I had a hard time suspending disbelief at certain points. I’m not sure there is a specific genre this book fits into, except that suggested by the subtitle “satiric urban fantasy.” I’ll just have to go with that. Once I got the hang of the thing, I raced through the book to see what would happen and was semi-disappointed with the cliff hanger ending. While I appreciate setting up a sequel and a series, I think a book should have at least a semblance of a proper ending.
This is one of the most interesting books I’ve had the opportunity to review. I laughed out loud at several points. Though I had a few minor complaints, I think this series and this author have promise. If I had a 3.5 rating, this book would have it.
Rue de la Pompe, by James Earle McCracken [rating:3]