Mysterious Press, 2011 (written, 1969); 176 pages
Description (from GoodReads):
During the time of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Herbie Gneiss is forced to leave college to get a job. His income from the Kant-Brake toy factory, which manufactures military toys for children, keeps his chocolate-loving mother from starvation. Mr. Gibbon, a patriotic veteran of three wars, also works at Kant-Brake. When Herbie is drafted, Mr. Gibbon falls in love with Herbie’s mother and they move in together at Miss Ball’s rooming house. Since Herbie is fighting for his country, Mr. Gibbon feels that he, too, should do something for his country and convinces Miss Ball and Mrs. Gneiss to join him in the venture. They decide to rob the Mount Holly Trust Company because it is managed by a small dark man who is probably a communist. There are some complications.
In the past I've read several books by Paul Theroux and really enjoyed them, but hadn't tried any of his more recent work. So when I saw that he'd published a mystery novel, I was intrigued. As it turns out, this isn't really a new book -- it was written in 1969, but never published until last year. Also, it isn't really a mystery novel, although it does involve a bank robbery and several murders. It's been called a dark comedy and a satire of Vietnam era social upheavals; and I suppose both those labels fit. But the whole thing is so weird, it's really hard to decide exactly what to call it. I'm not sure why he even allowed it to be published. About the only positive thing I can say about it is that it's short -- I read it in just a couple of hours, and even that feels like a waste of time.
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