Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis
Of the many popularly identifiable genres of literature - sci-fi, romance, chick-lit, lad-lit, thriller - so-called 'prison writing' is perhaps the easiest to define. Prison writing is written by prisoners, and includes poetry, short stories, essays, book reviews, interviews, op-eds, etc. And novels, of course.
Enter D. Razor Babb, a prisoner in Corcoran, California. Babb wrote a novel called Icicle Bill. And it's a humdinger of a read. For Babb takes the reader on a loop roller coaster of a ride revolving around the story's protagonist Icicle Bill, who lives just over the ragged edge of sanity.
The story goes like this: on a twisted journey of love, lust, hate, drugs, money and - ultimately - redemption, Bill moves from one adventure to another like someone slowly descending Dante's Inferno to the lowest level. Along the way, Bill encounters Molly the midget, Tommy Two-Head, a number of gangbangers, an outlaw biker dude, and an enigmatic woman whose tag is Apollonia Steffanelli. Apollonia Steffanelli turns out to be not a super-model, as her name might indicate. Rather, she is the mother of Molly the midget, who, as it turns out is not really a midget.
The story swirls into action in Los Angeles, where Bill suffers the indignity of being carjacked by a shot-up Mexican gangbanger, who goes by the moniker of Gangster G. Vamoosing is what Gangster G has on his mind. G wants to get out of town, so he instructs Bill to drive east toward Las Vegas. Gangster G never gets to Vegas, succumbing to his wounds in the Nevada desert.
Which is where Tommy Two-Head becomes a member of Bill's crazy crew. Together, Bill and Tommy Two-Head take off on a mission of mercy - to warn Gangster G's sister, who conducts business under the name of G Lu that she might be in danger. At this point, the story blasts off into the outer limits of Never- Never land, where the author displays his literary talents, combining artistry, mysticism, and truth into an ethereal tale shimmering in agitation. Which means you to have to read it to believe it.
The elements of Icicle Bill coalesce into form when one realizes that the novel is partially autobiographical. Granted, the story is fictionalized. Yet there is no denying that in many respects the author - Babb - is Bill. And vice versa - Bill is Babb. Which means that the story reflects Babb's transformation from confused criminal to something else. Just what that something else is, is unclear right now. But whatever it is, it's something with a future.
Icicle Bill is not by no means 'high-literary' stuff. It is pure entertainment, which is what good fiction is supposed to be. Icicle Bill flows from scene to scene smoothly and effortlessly, which indicates the author maintained control over his material. Yet at the same time, Babb allowed free reign to his imagination, which is what invests the story with a subtle hallucinizer, one that makes the reader keep reading.
All that being said, Icicle Bill is recommended reading. And it is rumored that D. Razor Babb has another novel coming out soon - Goodbye Natalie. If it's as delightful as Icicle Bill, it'll be worth waiting for.
By author of Education Behind Bars www.ChristopherZoukis.com
Update: D Razor Babb has three novels of the series Icicle Bill, Goodbye Natalie and Cherry Moon in print, with the next book, Outcast, coming soon. (This review first published by Ezines-Article and published in A Year of Corcoran Sun book)
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