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October 16, 2006 | by  | in Books |
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The Skin Gods

It’s a story as old as the hills, one of those you find in every culture with the characters slightly changed. An idealistic young man agrees to help his girlfriend with book reviews for a student magazine, and is then compelled to hold his nose for a year while plucking artefacts from the diarrheic stream of bottom-mustard that is modern publishing. Well this is the last one! Huzzah for me, motherfuckers. This book is a blockbuster-style thriller, pretty much CSI for the semi-literate. I’m just going to reprint some of the best paragraphs for you, like an owl regurgitating tiny rodent bones. Then you can judge the worth of The Skin Gods for yourself.

“Near the entrance to Club Vibe, on the corner of Kensington and Allegheny streets, beneath the steel ceiling of the El, stood a tall, statuesque redhead, her auburn hair a silken waterfall that graced bare shoulders before cascading to the middle of her back. She wore a short spaghettistrap dress that embraced the curves of her body, and crystal earrings. Her light olive skin glistened under a thin sheen of perspiration.”

“Byrne turned fully in his chair, glared at the punks. They held his gaze for a few seconds, but were no match for the cold green fire of his eyes. None but the hardest of the hard cases were. A few seconds later, they seemed to understand the wisdom of leaving. Byrne watched them walk the length of the food court, then get on the escalators.”

“The man was not Julian Matisse. It had been a setup, a classic ambush. Byrne had all but known it would be, but if word just happened to spread that a guy named Denny was looking for someone, and that you fucked with him at your own peril, it might make the rest of the night and the next few days move a little more smoothly.” If that sounds like your cup of tea, well, okay. I’m just glad I don’t have to read any more of this stuff until next time I’m feeling masochistic.

RICHARD MONTANARI
William Heinemann/Random House

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Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

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