In Riverton Noir, Perry Glasser browbeats high and low brow art into a work of sublime halftone pulp picture printing, shading stuttered shadows with the darker side of your so-called comic book. His pointillistic prose pops like Pop Art, but it is as pleasing as all get out in all that it knows and shows. Michael Martone, author of Four for a Quarter
"It is one thing to write a crackling yarn; the literary woods are full of gripping stories. But it is quite another thing to deliver that story as Perry Glasser has done in Riverton Noir: it's a riveting tale, all right, but its prose is a crackler in its own right. When I consider the style of this first-rate novelist, I start conjuring one of America's truly great writers, Raymond Chandler. Glasser is in the same league when it comes to dialogue, description, humor and character development. Riverton Noir will leave you breathless as narrative, awed as pure writing." Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate
"High school is eternal, someone has said, and Riverton High is high school on steroids, the horniest high school in the history of American fiction. Perry Glasser brings the nitty and the gritty to this novel of exaggeration and ribaldry. Big, vibrant, laugh-out-loud funny, it is also fearless about sex and violence, which in Riverton can seem like the same thing. Don’t worry, the novel’s structure and theme are carefully controlled by 'the Dreamer,' not to mention the laws of modern physics, and Glasser’s sentences, among such seeming chaos, are marvels of clarity. This should be the author’ s break-out book." Kelly Cherry, author of We Can Still Be Friends, Poet Laureate of Virginia
"No graphic novel ever carved such shapely, scary, sexy shadows as Riverton Noir! No magic realism ever assembled such a Land o'Goshen, with scuzzballs and cutie-pies, Happy Days and Mean Streets, zombies (sort of) and deep thinkers. Perry Glasser has stolen the cogitations of David Foster Wallace, the worrying over self-consciousness and what's actually out there, and grafted them to tough-guy eroticism of Marvel comics. The energy's sky-high, the verbal pleasure's unending, and the American crime novel has notched a new benchmark." John Domini, judge for the 2011 Gival Press Novel Award and author of A Tomb on the Periphery
Riverton Noir by Perry Glasser has it all. Dean Koontz meets Jostein Gaarder meets Larry Flynt, with just enough Fyodor Dostoyevsky thrown in to finish the sauce. Mysterious, trashy, suspenseful, at frequently odd moments even profound, Glasser's quirky characters & compellingly poetic imagery pull you through his yarn with the accelerating intensity of an olympic skier slaloming down a steep mountain course with obstacles at every turn. Upon finishing Riverton Noir, as soon as I caught my breath, I raced to my computer to order another Glasser book. Riverton Noir is an incredibly good read. --Ronald
When Mickey Black fixes the big Riverton-Haverhill basketball game by bribing Chucker Washington to shave just a few points, Mickey clears enough coin to persuade Mickey’s Haverhill associate, a leg-breaker named Danny Donnelly, to introduce Mickey to Aunt Sosha, the woman who controls the rackets in the Merrimack Valley. Seeing possibilities for OxyContin in Riverton, Aunt Sosha sends Mickey home to start the business, but Aunt Sosha and her friend, Avram, an interrogator once dismissed from the Mossad for excessive zeal, strictly as a matter of security hold Mickey’s buddy, Bughouse, hostage.
Maybe it would have all worked out if Mickey hadn’t been traveling with Madge. Madge is obsessed with the idea that she and everyone else in Riverton may be unreal, and the girl may have a point. Her hymen grows back, no one in Riverton sickens or dies, and no one has substantial memories. Every day at Riverton High, the lessons are the same. She cuts herself to feel real, and her wounds heal overnight. Worst of all, Madge feels the Shadow on her far too often, an unseen power that resets reality, wipes memories clean, and robs Madge of life experience. Her memory lapses trouble her. So when Bughouse is terrified of the comic book he finds, something called Archie, though Madge won’t let on, she is concerned. What could be worse than being a minor character in someone else’s dream? What if someone else’s dream is her nightmare?
Before Mickey can slide into his usual booth at Daddy Kane’s All-American Burger Shoppe and sell the first milligram of Oxy, on a moonless night outside the No-tel Motel Juice catches his old nemesis with his girl. Juice confuses Mickey’s head with a baseball, and since Juice is carrying a Louisville Slugger, he tries to hit a home-run. What else could Mickey do except reach for his Smith and Wesson .38?
Profound, profane and provocative, Riverton Noir is novel that might have been penned by Franz Kafka collaborating with Mickey Spillane and Phillip K. Dick. On one level it’s an action thriller; on another it poses basic existential questions on the nature of consciousness, madness, and the fabric of existence; on every level, Riverton Noir is a page-turner’s delight.
Come summer, clouds of moths like souls at the Rapture would flutter up the cone of light cast by the spot mounted over the motel office, but on this November night, the glow only bleached their skin to a sickly pallor, a non-color aggravated by the buzzing green neon Vacancy sign. Their shadows darted before them to vanish with the gravel path in the deeper darkness among the pines.
Madge’s nose wrinkled. The stink of the Merrimack River was on her like the cold hands of the dead. Tendrils of mist eddied over the river. The Riverton Shadow was already plucking at her memory, excising bits and pieces of the day from her mind like a mother might snatch bits of white thread from her daughter’s black dress.
She’d been near raped and her tits squeezed purple, but as soon as Mickey’s Honda passed the Kiwanis and Lions signs that welcomed everyone to Riverton, Madge had to fight feeling wholesome. The Riverton Shadow was no contagious civic can-do attitude; the Shadow robbed her of her heart and mind. She detested that reflexive sense of well-being. It was false, false, false, while the Shadow itself was terribly real. Maybe the Shadow lived in the water or maybe the air or maybe it rose from the ground or maybe it was a curse lurking in Riverton’s DNA. Wherever the Shadow might lurk, everyone in Riverton felt it; a few even whispered about it. A very few, like Madge, resisted its insistent touch.
Madge was neither psychotic nor delusional; Madge was fucked up, was what she was, fucked up and twisted. Riverton people made pretzels look like plumb lines; compared to Riverton, a ball of yarn was a straight and true path.
Back in Haverhill, while they were dosing Bughouse, just before Madge had her tits near ripped off, Aunt Sosha had told her about Chuang-Tzu, the Chinese holy man who dreamed he was a butterfly but awaked to discover he was a man. Chuang-Tzu did not know if he were a butterfly dreaming it was a man, or a man dreaming he was a butterfly.
Fuck that Chinaman. Madge’s problems were far worse. A goat in Riverton might dream it was a man, only to awaken to learn it had become a butterfly with no memory of ever having been a caterpillar, and it might suffer a vague premonition of transforming to a bear.
Butterfly, man, goat, dog, caterpillar. Who gave a fuck about dreams? Bughouse was Aunt Sosha’s hostage. Someone better fucking wake up, and soon. Bughouse’s bony ass was in a sling, and though he needed rescuing, the poor bastard would be dog-meat before his great good friend Mickey lifted a finger.
Never mind occupying Cabin #3 a second time, Madge was thinking she would not even kiss Mickey goodnight. No fucking way. She was thinking maybe instead she would kick her lover in the balls, go home, swan dive into a hot bath, and just this once give in to the Shadow or whatever the fuck it was, let it drain away this terrible, terrible day. Why not allow herself wake up clean, new, healed, to take her place as a happy pig, happy as every other happy pig in Riverton?
Rank mist floated around her waist and between her legs. Madge shivered to think of slimy, pale, colorless things that grew beneath rocks; she hunched her shoulders and pushed her hands deeper into her flannel-lined coat pockets.
Silent, gravel crunching beneath their feet, Mickey and Madge walked side by side toward the dark trees that cloaked her Subaru safe from view.
Not safe enough.
Bellowing, dropped like an egg by the moon, Big Juice, exploded from nowhere. His knees uncoiled and he sprang into the air, a baseball bat high over his head. He came down on Mickey and Madge, horrible, unstoppable, as inescapable as God’s wrath.
The same thighs that could carry the All-State fullback into the end zone with three defenders pathetically clinging to his back churned like diesel pistons. His doughy face twisted with rage. His mouth was a jagged black pit. His eyes rolled, unmoored.
“You stole my girl!”
Back-pedaling, Mickey’s feet slipped on damp leaves. His ass hit unyielding rocks when he fell, but the painful fall saved him; Juice’s bat whiffed, missing Mickey’s skull by inches. Mickey scuttled like a crab swimming backstroke on dirt. His heels and palms ground into the soil and sodden leaves.
Madge launched herself at Juice, but no 126-pound girl was about to accomplish what 700 pounds of defensive linemen could not. She hit hard as a dandelion puff, clinging to his big arm as the bat drew back for a second savage try, shouting in his ear, “Juice! Juice! It’s not what you think!” which of course, it was.
The big idiot lacked all imagination, but he was not blind.
When Juice whirled, Madge’s legs snapped out like wet sheets on a line in high wind. He brushed her off, spun, and raised the bat high over his head for what would have been a fatal blow except that Madge had slowed Juice just enough for Mickey to find the revolver in his pocket.
He fired up from the ground right through his jacket’s cloth. Danny had said to squeeze and aim. Well, no, Danny, no slow deliberation just now. Squeeze, nothing. Juice loomed two feet above him. With five rounds in the revolver, even Mickey could not miss.
The first shot went wildly high over Juice’s shoulder into the darkness. Mickey managed to pull the revolver free of his clothes. The second shot caught Juice’s upper left arm. Juice’s eyes flashed red with the reflected muzzle flash. Mickey’s ears rang, and his nose filled with the acrid smell of gunpowder. Danny had warned that the gun had little stopping power, and though Mickey was unfamiliar with firearms, right then he’d have welcomed the stopping power of an elephant gun. Winging Juice made him spin, and while he spun, he was close enough to touch, a stationary target. Mickey’s third and fourth shots went off quick as firecrackers, just like that, pop, pop, and tore into Juice just below the numbers on his jersey, 00. Juice’s momentum still would have carried Juice forward, but the fifth and final round from the .38 found Juice’s lower jaw. It splintered bone and teeth and ripped out most of Juice’s chin and throat. His face exploded.
The bat slipped soundlessly from his grasp, he clapped both his hands to his neck, and he toppled backward.
“Oh shit oh fuck oh shit oh fuck.”
Madge was babbling. Mickey rolled to his hip to hurl himself across the leaves and dirt onto her. He pushed his weapon into his deep pants pocket where the hot short barrel burned his thigh through his pocket’s cloth. He willed his rigid, shaking fingers to uncoil so he could grab Madge.
Madge squirmed like a snake impaled on an electrified fence. His left hand clapped over her mouth. Her soft body writhed beneath him.
Could the sound of trucks from the highway have drowned out the sound of gunfire? Danny said the Smith and Wesson .38 Special was a woman’s gun, but it made the loudest damned noise Mickey Black ever heard. Maybe it was a woman’s gun because the action was more slick than Madge’s thighs. The effect, however, was far more deadly.
No one ran toward them. They were busy with what people in motels do. Mickey held his breath. His heart danced a rumba with his liver. He held Madge tight.
Maybe this one time, just this once, Mickey had caught a break. Next year, he’d throw a party—the first anniversary of the only day in history Mickey Black ever caught a break. There would be streamers and balloons at the parade. Popcorn and young mothers, floats with waving dancing girls.
Madge’s breath was hot on his face. She was trying to bite his hand over her mouth. Madge’s black eyes rolled. Her lips, teeth, and jaws worked against his palm. Her breath whistled through her nostrils. She screamed mutely into his hand, kicking to get up. Mickey’s legs scissored around her hips and across her stomach.
A foot away, Juice wheezed and gurgled wetly through the mushy space where his throat had been. Locked in an embrace, Madge and Mickey waited for Juice to die.
It took forever. Twice, Juice’s back bowed with the struggle for yet one more breath. Juice sucked wind through what was left of his throat as his lungs filled with his own blood. Then his bubbling breath rattled one last time, he sighed, and the damp velvet night was again filled only by the murmur of the river.