IRRRRXXTT!!! Screaming acorns! A dead meter maid! A doughnut shop shoot out between an apple and a banana over a briefcase and bucket! And this is just the first chapter.
Thanks to a special fucking pollen, we now live in a world where fruits are sentient. That pisses me off. How'm I suppose to eat my honeydew melon through all the screaming and pleas? I'm no kingdomist but hell, all I can see is people in blenders every time I drink a smoothie now!
Charles seems to cope alright, cigarettes and coffee will keep him sane. Keep him from thinking too hard about his daddy issues. Like father, like son, he works at a DC metro area doughnut shop. Years ago, dad ran off muttering something about the King of Pop and Charles has since resigned himself to a mundane existence. He's happy at least to have Sarah, his geekslurpin', Kiwi fruit girlfriend with issues of her own, specifically worrying that Charles will leave her for a woman with a prettier face.
Holy shit, but now Charlie's world has taken a turn for the better. Sort of. Yeah, he has to make a couple fruit bodies disappear, but that briefcase and bucket are his ticket out of this mundane existence.
As long as that Roma tomato mafia hitfruit doesn't catch up with him first...
Many characters are pivotal to the telling of this story and I loved getting to know each one of them. Everybody has secret motives that slowly come out over the course of the book. No one is left without closure, either. Something that bugs me in books is when characters, even minor ones, are left without decent endings.
Charles is a near devout worshiper of hating his life. It seems to me he is constantly looking for a way out of his current situation, perhaps even unconsciously. Ironically, when the opportunity to do so practically falls into his lap, he becomes hesitant to react. Change can be as painful as a gunshot to the stomach and I completely understand Charles reluctance to accept any in his life.
Standing in the way of Charles and Sarah's happy future is Roma, a violent tomato with the desire to become a made man in the local fruit mafia. Roma is quick to anger, but even quicker to moonwalk with an MJ obsession that borders on zealous worship. Together with his goon, Mr. Strawberry, Roma will stop at nothing to get back the briefcase and the bucket.
My two favorite characters, Officer's Mortimer and Mayflower, only played a minor part in the story, but I couldn't imagine the book without them. The cop duo are a classic senior/rookie partnership with extremely opposite views on parking enforcement officers. When dealing with the general public, they act and talk like those jerk cops you love to hate. Once they are alone, however, the shtick ceases and their true natures appear, ones filled with intelligence and perceptiveness.
Upon finishing Bucket Of Face, what stood out most was what I saw as a more traditional style of narration used to tell the story. Mr. Hendrixson keeps a solid tone of voice throughout and his descriptions fit perfectly with the action and dialogue, really bringing his world of Fruit Peoples and Human Peoples alive.
The title is in reference to a common plot device which is heavily subverted in the book. Most audiences are familiar with the MacGuffin of a briefcase full of money, usually having nothing to do with progressing the story and only existing to motivate the characters. In this case, the briefcase in question is a bucket of faces (humorously paired with it is an actual briefcase containing worthless Zimbabwean currency), and it is this bucket that pushes the protagonists/antagonists into conflict with each other.
Though it is a simple idea, it is one this reader finds very interesting. When a large amount of something valuable is inextricably placed on the lap of a protagonist, it opens up an unlimited amount of possibility for this character. Exploring how they react, and how anyone else with knowledge of this "briefcase" reacts, usually turns out to be wild ride.
Is this No Country For Old Men With Fruit? Not really, but it has a crime noir quality to it that never seems forced, and though it is equal parts absurd comedy I could see a film adaptation translating very well to the screen. No CG fruits though, please.
Download The Bucket Of Face Song! (Right click, save link as...)
J. W. Wargo - Bucket Of Face
Like my review? Buy the book!
Bucket Of Face at Amazon.com
For more info on Bizarro Fiction, look no further.