“The guys who were supposed to be my crew, my pals, my posse, had left me for dead, after I had gone above and beyond for them, after I had sussed out the perfect score, after I had done my homework, after I had overcome their stupidity, after I had sacrificed my near-virginity by having sex with the limbless lady.”
When he wakes up naked by the side of the highway in the middle of the desert, twenty-two-year-old Bailey Quinn is only sure of a few things: He’s in a world of testicle pain. He’s tripping out of his head on peyote. And someone seems to have made a half-assed attempt at slashing his throat. He can’t for the life of him remember what happened. And then it all comes back: His boys screwed him over.
Bailey, college dropout and carny, was working props and rigging for a touring tent circus and freak show. The Freaks were the nastiest, most tweaked-out group of misfits Bailey had ever come across. But the Freaks were doing some shady bookkeeping in addition to a boatload of veterinary Quaalude and crystal meth. So to get the inside dope on the circus payroll, Bailey took up with Eelie, the Serpent Girl, and began an unexpectedly erotic and dangerous odyssey.
As Bailey hits the road to track down his “friends” and get his loot back, a black-edged, hilarious caper unfolds. From Tank Deerflower, the drug-dealing rodeo rider, and Arnold, the fire-eater with a temper as black as his charred throat, to Sissy, the beautiful ex-junkie/whore who steals Bailey’s heart, strange characters and stranger events converge in this fast, gritty, and unforgettable novel. Crafted with artistry and deftness, Serpent Girlis a voyage into the darkest depths of carny life–and, remarkably, a tender love story to boot.
Matthew Carnahan has had 77 jobs, from deckhand to circus worker. He studied at New York University and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. After working as a playwright and director in New York, Carnahan received the Chesterfield Writer’s… More about Matthew Carnahan
Ebook | $4.99
Published by Villard Mar 01, 2005| 208 Pages| ISBN 9781588364388
“Carnahan can write. He mixes real freaks with freaky West Coast dopers, gets them talking, threatening each other–and it works. I didn’t notice any wasted words.” –Elmore Leonard
“Smart, sexy, and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s the coolest book I’ve read in years, and in my Top Five of All Time.” –Mike Myers
“It starts with the best opening line in modern American literature and just gets better–and by ‘better’ I mean more depraved and more fun–from there. If you’ve ever wondered what the hell–and by ‘hell’ I mean hell–goes on with a traveling circus when the tents fold and the sawdust is swept up, my babies, this is the show for you.” –John Ridley, author of The Drift and Those Who Walk in Darkness
“Only Matthew Carnahan’s own prose can do him justice–he’s ‘as clear as a bell in a Buddhist temple,’ he’s a ‘vigilant, righteous, in-your-face’ writer, his lines are as ‘ripe and perfectly juicy as Xana’s bruised-mango breasts.’ Oh, never mind–just read the first sentence and hold on to your balls (as if they were ‘dangerous little animals that might escape’) and you’re off!” –Richard Dooling, author of Brain Storm and White Man’s Grave