Kill Kill Faster Faster, by Joel Rose

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At the start it sounds as though it will be an Elmore Leonard-type novel, like Stick, an ex-con trying to make it on the outside but unable to stay out of trouble. However, while both have been filmed, it is hard to imagine Burt Reynolds starring in the film version of Kill Kill Faster Faster. The Irvine Welsh endorsement on the cover should have been a clue.

The story of ‘Joey One-Way’, junkie and wife-murderer, KKFFdescribes his affair (told in filthily graphic detail) with the wife of the film producer who got him out on parole after seventeen years‘ incarceration. For Joey wrote a play in jail, White Man Black Hole, yes really, that was a huge successes, and now the producer, Markie Mann, is working on a film version while trying to get Joey to turn out another masterpiece, which seems to be beyond him.

The problem with the novel is that it is hard to get inside Joey, so to speak, even with the flashbacks to his life with his family and his prison experiences. People apparently like him, women dig him, despite the effects bullets and drugs have had on him, and only having one eye. But why they do is impossible to fathom. He is tedious, inarticulate, not very bright, and has a short fuse (murdering his wife must say something about his character). His tendency to refer to himself in the third person has to be a bad sign. He even had a lot of help from his fellow prisoners when writing his play, torpedoing any idea that he is rough-cast genius.

It is difficult to believe that Markie would see him as anything other than the idiot he is (though it turns out Markie’s interest in Joey extends beyond creative writing). Perhaps Joel Rose is satirising the stupidity of the movie business, and the kind of murder celebrity also satirised in Natural Born Killers, but Quentin Tarantino’s script is Dostoyevsky compared to this.

The book has its weirdly funny moments, such as black brothers christened by their mother Clinique and Olay, and Joey’s bizarre murder of a would-be rapist in a prison shower by ripping off his testicles, defecating on his face, and then suffocating him, but such laughs are few and far between.

There’s a nice twist at the end, yet it’s a sign of Rose’s failure to generate empathy that it produces only a wry smile rather than any emotional response. Joey is shallow, with no redeeming features, which might mean that Rose has pulled off a bravura performance in the characterisation, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that it actually just means that the writing is shallow too.

Don’t confuse this with Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! You will be disappointed.

First posted on Goodreads website 20 March 2013

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