Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom by A. L. Haskett
Publication: Jonlin Books (2000), Paperback, 180 pages
Buy it at Amazon.com
This novel starts when the titular character’s mother encounters her son, her son’s best friend, and her boyfriend involved in what appears to be a bloody, evil murder. After that, things get weird.
Duncan Delaney is a young man who lives on a ranch in Wyoming. His mother runs the ranch, and his father is dead. His best friend, Benjamin, is a Native American and sells Duncan’s art for him, and his girlfriend seems to be losing interest in him. When his mother gives him an ultimatum to either get a job or leave, Duncan elects to leave. He heads to Los Angeles, where he manages to hook up with a confused stripper, her motorcyclist ex-girlfriend, and other great characters. To put it bluntly, hilarity ensues.
Haskett’s short book is well written and fast moving. Although the subject matter is broad and ripe with humorous potential, his style is understated and often subtle, and reminds me of Christopher Moore. He treats all of his characters, even the most obnoxious ones, with sympathy and good humor, which makes reading this novel even more enjoyable. There are certainly characters here that you won’t like and that are maliciously motivated; yet Haskett makes them believable and even likable.
The primary fault I found with this novel, though, was Haskett’s presentation of his female characters. While they are good characters and well developed, Haskett falls into a shortcoming which I’ve noticed with many male authors (and I frequently do this myself): female characters are often described with much more richness and detail than the male characters. In particular, Haskett seems obsessed with their breasts. While this might be excused because Duncan, his primary viewpoint character, is an adolescent male and adolescent males are nearly always obsessed with breasts, it became a bit wearisome. I admit that I’m ceding some of my own manhood when I admit that I can get tired of reading about breasts, but there it is.
But that’s a small flaw in an otherwise well written book. As far as I can tell, Haskett has published no other novels, which is a shame. I recommend this one highly, and I imagine that if he were to continue writing, then his humor would get stronger, and he’d occupy a place alongside Moore as one of the better modern American humorists.