Toxicity by Max Booth III is a driven black comedy about the perils of drugs and lottery wins, with some sex and murder and … FLIES, DAMN FLIES thrown in for good measure.
In essence: Toxicity
Toxicity is a dog with at least three tails. Meet the father, Maddox Kane, with the desire but not the circumstances to stay clean as he leaves prison for the first time in ten years. The disintegration of his new life is a hapless comedy of errors: missed opportunities, others’ idiocies, and ridiculous circumstances hounding him every step of the way. He ends difficult circumstances with a thoughful, devastating violence, delivered in the style of any pulp gangster movie since the late 1990s (think Tarrantino, Coen Bros., Guy Ritchie), though his family is protected by his deep loyalty.
The daughter, Addison, is a 17-year-old beauty, suffering a hard and horrible existence at the abusive hands of her drug-addict-mother and stepfather. Her only respite is her boyfriend, Connor, but a combination of her bad luck and his love leads them into murder and an urgent need to commit a robbery.
Johnny Desperation is Addison and Connor’s friend to start with, but his life changes radically at the beginning of the book and he takes off on a tangent of madness. Much of the book hangs on Johnny’s tangent – and there’s strong Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas imagery in his visions – even the climax relies on it, so be prepared for some sophisticated surreality.
What’s the point?
Toxicity is an epitaph of the devastation that hard drugs can bring to the circles of people around them. Its unremitting energy moves the story along, though the pace occasionally lulls long enough for you to breathe. Its homages to certain styles in pop culture are recognisable but not cheap, and it achieves originality with fresh and ridiculous characters living horrible, well-imagined lives.
The characters are brilliantly etched for maximum effect. Some are tragic victims, others crazed – or psychopathic – killers – several are both – and the reader is forced to decide whether to cheer them on or to smile as they meet their violent destinies.
Will you like it?
If a clever, tongue-in-cheek, goofed-up-gangster story sounds like a good idea, you’re probably going to like it. If ridiculous, yet real characters and endless fuckups are the stuff of your amusement, it scores highly in the cringeworthy stakes. The tale of Maddox Kane, his idiotic brother, his unfortunate daughter and Johnny ‘Purple’ Desperation in their fights for survival against drugs, violence, abuse, and stupidity is worthy of a read for pure entertainment value, though that’s not to say you won’t take away more than that..
You can meet more of Max Booth III at his website Tales from the Booth