Taty Went West by Nikhil Singh

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“The Dead Duck Diner capsuled a corner just two fingers short of the waterfront. It gleamed like the wet fin of some imaginary car, all sleazy chrome against the fast-forward decay of the esplanade. Festooned with rotisserie jungle chicken, pink-on-green neon, and loud checkerboard trim, it bubbled with all the indigestible traffic from the strip. You name the parasite, and their umbilical leavings would be smeared along the linoleum countertops: robo-jox, the bitchdoctors, all the sailor drek, cyborg love bunnies, bible jerkjumpers, jewel shifters, soldier camp dropouts, alien trannies, cannibal hobo freak shows, keyboard cowboys, jungle mummies, the whole carnival sucked through the place like a vacuum cleaner and gathered like gunk in the filters.”

Taty Went West by Nikhil Singh starts with a quote from William Burroughs, so you know right from the start you’re in for a wild ride. There’s also a character named after Burroughs in the book. As you’d expect from a fan of Burroughs, it’s a very hallucinogenic book filled with poetic language. Illustrations appear throughout, and it’s the only book I’m aware of besides House of Leaves to have an accompanying soundtrack.

The book starts, as the title implies, when Taty runs away from home and heads west. With an absentee father and a medicated mother, Taty was mostly raised by robots. An underlying theme of the book is Taty looking for a replacement mother and she finds several candidates, including a robotic nun.

The cast of characters also includes a zombie, “detachable” Siamese twins, a woman who walks around while nailed to a cross, cupids who require life support when not up in the clouds, an imp, and the imp’s whipping boy who can’t feel physical pain, but compensates by being emotionally sensitive. There’s a character with split personalities who each hate each other, an ancient god, a panther who’s an excellent doctor, and a character called Dr. Dali who seems to be inspired by Salvador Dali since he does inter-dimensional experiments in a place called the Clock Shop where the horizon melts like a lava lamp.

Professional wrestlers wearing masks are in charge of the Outzone and their headquarters is a six-story bouncy house. There’s also a group of men dressed like clowns in charge of an area populated by floating pyramids and pterodactyls.

Taty discovers she has the ability to make people’s souls climax and she ends up getting pimped out for this purpose. Each person’s soul has a very specific trigger. For example, in one scene, Taty dresses up like an Olympic swimmer who’s just finished a workout and smashes open a refrigerator filled with milk bottles containing different colored paint in order to make someone dressed in an astronaut suit have a soul climax.

Life in the outzone is disrupted when alien symbiotes who can only eat carrots appear and… hey, look if you’re still reading this review, you already know if you want to read this book or not so I won’t spoil it by saying anything else. Just one word of warning, though. There is a lot of casual violence in this book, including sexual violence, so be warned before diving in.

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