No One Left to Come Looking for You

Sam Spade was searching for the Maltese falcon; Jack Shit (né Jonathan Liptak), from the punk band the Shits, is searching for his Fender Jazz bass. With No One Left to Come Looking for You, Sam Lipsyte has written a novel firmly in the noir tradition and fused it with satire in such a way that he makes pairing crime fiction with comedy seem as natural as pairing a Gibson Les Paul with a Marshall stack.

It's January of 1993, Manhattan's East Village is gentrifying, and the Earl, narrator Jack's bandmate and roommate, has run off with Jack's prized possession, presumably to sell it for drug money. How does Jack know that the Earl stole his bass? Through a phone call from Jack's friend at King Snake Guitars, where the Earl tried unsuccessfully to sell the instrument.

Things get darker fast, but they never stop being funny. There's Jack's Spinal Tap-ian overblown sense of importance ("We have a pretty huge following in Catalonia"). There are some brilliant song titles ("Orange Julius Rosenberg," "Salad of the Bad Cafe") and hilarious lyrics not fit to print here. No One Left to Come Looking for You is a twisty caper, a reverberant period piece and an affectionate parody of the youthful quest for authenticity. (Jack, who frets that having gone to college threatens his legitimacy as a punk, wears the fact that Lou Reed studied poetry at Syracuse University like armor.) While Lipsyte (The Fun Parts; Hark) never swerves into mean-spiritedness, a running gag involving Hall and Oates comes smile-makingly close. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

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