No Birds Sing Here
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing

"People don’t want poetry or literature. They want celebrities, half-crazy celebrities."

Mix a dram of Hunter Thompson, a dash of Kerouac, a pinch of Tom Wolfe, a sprinkle of Palahniuk, a dab of Salinger, and a heaping spoonful of Scott Fitzgerald. Shake liberally, and what emerges is an urban literary concoction that rises to the level of the best road trip stories ever told. At turns ribald and violent, at others tender and thoughtful, this tale starts mildly enough when Beckman, a disenchanted dishwasher with literary aspirations, flees his dead-end job and his writer's block to hit the road with Malany, a remarkable poet he encounters at a used book store. He concocts his theatrical plan after they jump out of his dive apartment window and head through the Southeast in her rickety Oldsmobile.

Malany is not impressed with Beckman's dishonest PR games. But in the interest of selling her stash of vanity-published poetry volumes, she goes along for the ride anyway, funding the trip with her mysterious, cash-filled envelopes. As the mismatched pair travel deeper into Southern literary territory, they cross paths with an assorted cast of clichéd and yet not so clichéd characters, from a tattooed redneck biker to a wealthy sexual predator with pretentious literary fantasies.

Meier's storytelling hits the ground running with every aspect of literary skill inherent from the first page onward: memorable prose, vivid characterizations, and scenes that move incessantly forward with much rumination about the meaning of life and letters, whether from the viewpoint of gritty pool halls and rancid jail cells or between perfumed sheets in the rarified world of academia. Readers in the mood for a loveless, sexy road trip tale should enjoy this one.

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