The Fast Red Road

The Fast Red Road—A Plainsong is a gleeful, two-fisted plundering of the myth and pop- culture surrounding the American Indian. It is a novel fueled on pot fumes and blues, a surreal pseudo-Western, in which imitation is the sincerest form of subversion. Indians, cowboys, and outlaws are as changeable as their outfits; horses are traded for Trans-Ams, and men are as likely to strike poses from Gunsmoke as they are from Custer’s last stand. Pidgin, the half-blood protagonist, inhabits a world of illusion—of aliens, ghosts, telekinesis, and water-pistol violence, where TV and porn offer redemption, and the Indian always gets it in the end. His attempts to reconcile the death of his father with five hundred years of colonial myth-making lead him to criss-cross a wasted New Mexico, returning compulsively to his hometown of Clovis, the site of his father’s burial.

Accompanied by car thief Charlie Ward, he evades the cops in a top-down drag race, tearing through barriers “Dukestyle.” The land they travel seems bent with fever—post-apocalyptic —as though the end has arrived and no one noticed. Its occupants hawk bodies and pastel bomb shelters, wandering a bleak hallucination of strip-joints, strip-malls, and all you can eat beef fed beef stalls. They speak a lingo of disposable nicknames, truncated punch lines—slang with an expiration date. Pidgin strays through bar and junkyards, rodeos and carnivals, encountering the remnants of the Goliard tribe. There’s the mysterious Mexican Paiute, Uncle Birdfinger, checkout-girl Stiya 6—the reincarnation of Pidgin’s mother—and media-queen Psychic Sally, who predicts the group’s demise. Each plays a part in the search that will eventually place Pidgin in a position to rewrite history.

Jones delivers his stunning epic in violent, palpable prose, rendering a dark yet recognizable vision. The Fast Red Road blazes a trail through the puppets and mirrors of myth, meeting the unexpected at every turn, and proving that the past—the texture of the road—can and must be changed.

Stephen Graham Jones’ first novel roars onto the literary landscape like a Seventies muscle car hellbent on nothing less than genius. — Houston Chronicle

The Fast Red Road – a Plainsong, Jones’s first novel, is the kind of debut that should cause critics and readers everywhere to stand up and take notice. — Popmatters

His prose is often incantatory, hallucinatory, even fevered. He is a richly inventive writer. He limns a world of truck stops, bus rides, the dusty roads of New Mexico, of earthy couplings, loneliness, and memory . . . He is stronger than a yard of garlic, a voice for the American Indian, the Mexican-American, and the marginalized of every stripe in America today — Austin Chronicle

Stephen Graham Jones is an original, visionary storier. The characters in this marvelous plainsong novel, waist-high in witty, girtty commotion, steal the reader away to the fantastic, wild edges of reality — Gerald Vizenor

Stephen Graham Jones does such skillful work in creating a drug-induced state in this book that I felt like I needed detox every time I set it down — New Pages

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New Pages
Pop Matters
Austin Chronicle

Author: SGJ