Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
With the smallest suspension of disbelief, we’re prepared to embrace the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its deep conspiracies, otherworldly technology and skyscraper-flattening dust-ups between super-powered good and evil. So why not the Crosbie Literary Universe? Undoubtedly as special, the CLU’s cerebral but pop outlook, operatic sensibilities (artificial and emotionally overwrought at once), and hallucinatory weirdness do not have the mass-market cachet of the MCU. Still, it’s eminently worthy of our attention. Crosbie’s inventive latest (which clearly shares familial traits with Dorothy l’Amour and Life Is About Losing Everything) is a hypnotically perverse opiate fantasy, a “true story” that began, the author notes, as a young-adult novel that “only a lunatic would publish.” With a cast of extras that includes: an ex-groupie mother who drinks spiked Snapple; Marilyn, an ancient former showgirl with bark-textured skin; a prostitute named Strawberry Quick; and Lee Tater, “California’s biggest Liberace fan,” the restless, funny and artfully crazed story tells about the “complicated affections” between struggling teenage singer and the book’s frequent narrator, Evelyn Gray, and Celine Black, the charismatic frontman of Bleach (and a seeming reincarnation of Kurt Cobain).
After escaping a mental hospital (where Evelyn, of Carnation, Wash., age 15, has awoken after a suicide attempt), the two rebels flee to a series of fleabag motels in L.A. Between mainlining heroin and chugging Oxycontin shakes, the Bonnie-and-Clyde-meet-Kurt-and-Courtney of 2014 become post-grunge stars while committing murder and arson, and signing to a remake of A Star Is Born. “When had my life become an esoteric melodrama?” Evelyn asks, and Crosbie documents every wrong turn on this couple’s road to ruination. At heart, a teenage girl’s “traumatic sense of loss, pain and loneliness” animates the story. But, really, it’s another fever-dream of the CLU. Adventurous fanboys and girls will enjoy it as such.