a novel, by Lou Rowan
ISBN 978-0-9931955-3-2. Paperback. 160pp. Publication date: May 2016. Equus Press: London. Price: € 15.00 (not including postage).
Like a piano-player striving to make music in a whorehouse, Lou seeks earnestly, desperately to fathom rollicking episodes of crime and corruption on both coasts of the imploding American Empire.
A sports-loving western city is ruled by competing megachurches that deal drugs and corrupt young cheerleaders; high-end apartments erected by the Mafia kingpin ruling New Jersey crack like the House of Usher and create a tidal wave in a New Jersey swamp ; a socially-prominent professor of psychology wants to obliterate his plucky young ex-lover with an SUV; a WASP socialite-detective contends with a black woman who may be right that her family wants her dead; frustrated wives of aging billionaires molest a talented gay executive in limos and the Temple of Dendur.
We meet the elites; we meet the Mafia’s Jackhammer, his vengeful wife, the Toilet, and Pustule Pete; we meet Mayor Daley, Governor Uomo, Rudolph Guissilini, and Elliott Spitter–and we meet earnest, intelligent souls like Lou and his friend the retired gay catcher of the New York Mets contending with these mysteries. Could love be the answer to all the problems?
“A Mystery’s no Problem is the kind of book that film critics repurposed the adjective “delirious” for. Starting off with the hucksterist “My Pledge to You”, it then proceeds to gleefully confound expectations, starting off with a candid slice of literary autobiography spanning New York City and the Pacific North West, then veering into a roller-coaster ride populated by gangsters, politicians and drug-dealers. Very funny. Erm, a little like post-Trump America? Not so funny?”—Ken Edwards
“A laugh-out-loud ride through the highs and lows of contemporary America. It’s satire, it’s comedy, but it’s also a serious and inventive look at what The States are really like in the tradition of Nathanael West, Sinclair Lewis, and Mark Twain—if, that is, they had read Evelyn Waugh and Wyndham Lewis! At times elegant, at times a tall tale, at times tender, at times philosophical, it is a wonderful pastiche of various styles, moods, narrative techniques. But through all the funny wild ride there’s a sadness and an earnest engagement with contemporary issues, corruptions—and possibilities. It is a book that should be wildly popular, if we could only hear, only read with attention.”—Richard L. Lewis
“What is not a mystery is Rowan’s latest book whose punning title says it all: a mystery is easy peasy; a mystery is not of the same nature as a problem since a problem may be solved, while a mystery, like a miracle, remains unresolved. The mystery is Rowan’s writing life, how he found his way, or didn’t, how from reading and heritage he is what he is. In finding his way Lou Rowan gives us hilarious stories of contemporary America with all of its fads, corruptions and strengths. This is an America where “the toxic abstractions of finance fuse with the engineered realities of commerce”, it is a country where a good man is even harder to find than ever before, who strives to do good and lead an authentic life, with a sensibility that, in a post-Enron post-Brexit world, is more European than many Europeans, a good man inhabiting a world that is prescient of the next Trump, if not the last trump.”—Peter Vernon
“What strikes one most about this book is the deadpan, self-deprecating voice of the narrator—a bit like the voice of the only sane person in one of those Film Noirs of the 1950’s like The Snakepit—that continues on through a modernized and somewhat tidied up version of the Scroll of the Punishment of Sinners—an early masterpiece of Japanese Tendai art—only there are no horse-headed demons chopping up souls into salad garnishes, no giant chickens raking screaming sinners to red notations—but everyone is soon brought to the spiked heel by the mounting absurdities of office politics, of love, of the continuing struggle to align what should be with what is and the troubling introspections this causes the sympathetic narrator to engage in. The sentences, I might add, are great; indeed, A Mystery’s No Problem is worth the price of admission for the sentences alone. I love this book and have gone back more than once to smile over the chapters.”—Jesse Glass
“In a serio-comic riposte to Gabriel Marcel’s wisdom that ‘…mystery is something in which I am myself involved…where the distinction between what is in me and what is before me loses its meaning…’ Lou Rowan gifts us with a novel of the self, knowing itself better and better as it enlarges the mystery of imagined life. Rowan’s prose is an introspective roller coaster, that dips and careens around the facts and follies of contemporary American social and political realities, all for the excitement of the mind that must find its meaning where it fears the truth most. Funny, satirical, perverse, always on the move, emotionally and intellectually, A Mystery’s No Problem, is a novel that solves the question of what it means to be alive now.”—Alan Singer