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Fast Eddie, King of the Bees [Paperback]

Robert Arellano
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 1 2001

An abandoned child hustles on the streets of a dystopic, near-future Boston in the aftermath of the Great Devaluation—squatters have turned the tunnel system into an underground hive known as Dig City. In an elaborate search for his unknown parents, Eddie narrates through several levels of deception: street performer, pickpocket, adoptee, casino employee, and finally commander of the subterranean revolution. Fast Eddie is a convoluted Oedipal adventure blending low-brow scenarios with high-art diction, reminiscent of Robert Coover, John Hawkes, and Edmund White.

Cuban-American author Robert Arellano instructs fiction workshops at Brown University. He spends his breaks playing guitar for indie rock outfit Palace Brothers. Arellano's interactive novel, Sunshine '69, was published by SonicNet in 1996. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A young street hustler takes a bizarre ride from rags to riches in this uneven debut novel, which posits a future in which the Northeast lies in virtual ruin, the gap between rich and poor having widened so deeply that most public services and institutions have completely broken down. Fast Eddie is a Boston orphan who makes his way through the rubble by picking pockets until he's plucked from urban life and taken to Ho-ho-kus, New Jersey, where a rich ex-plumber turned sewer magnate Pauly Corrente and his comely, buxom wife Merry suddenly claim him as their long lost son. The couple is more than prepared to take care of Eddie's minimal material needs, but Eddie is quickly bored by Jersey life, and he's more than a little disturbed by Merry's romantic advances. After taking as much as he can stand, he runs away to become a bus driver, spiriting tourists and travelers up and down I-95 until he inadvertently finds himself in a very strange battle with a woman fronting an attack on the underground Boston city called Digtown. After winning the encounter, Eddie is proclaimed a hero in the underground town and quickly made its mayor, a role that brings him into conflict with the local crime kingpin, an old street rival named Apple Jack. Arellano keeps the action moving toward a final confrontation, but there's plenty of overwriting and not much rhyme or reason to Eddie's adventures, and Arellano's futuristic vision isn't nearly imaginative enough to add to the tale. The result is an occasionally entertaining but decidedly flawed parody of the age-old story of an orphan searching for his parents. B&w illus. by Marek Bennett.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The story of Oedipus underlies Arellano's first print novel (he has also written an online work), but the main story here is the author's style, which takes its cue from William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Charles Dickens, Jack Kerouac, and Tom Robbins. This may be the first postapocalyptic novel in which the apocalypse was created by a public works project, Boston's Big Dig, which is currently in its second decade. The eponymous Eddie, believing himself to be an orphan, joins a band of pickpockets. He then moves to New Jersey with a couple he claims are his parents, who turn out not to be his real parents. He spends six years on the road driving a bus between gambling resorts until his 21st birthday, when he accidentally kills Levis the King. In the underground Dig City, a catacomb metropolis under the former Big Dig, he beds Levis's former wife, Jocy, with whom he has four children. The question of whether or not Levis and Jocy were his real parents further complicates Eddie's lifelong confusion about his lineage. Misdirection and game theory flesh out this funny and surprising book. Recommended for literary collections. Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a surreal trip to Dig City Aug. 19 2001
Format:Paperback
A surreal trip to a futuristic Boston. I laughed out loud when I figured out where the present-day location of the Nec was.
Fast-paced and lots of fun, with bonus giggles for anyone familiar with Boston geography. The fact that it's utterly unpredictable makes it even more fun.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a surreal trip to Dig City Aug. 19 2001
By R. S. Silverman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A surreal trip to a futuristic Boston. I laughed out loud when I figured out where the present-day location of the Nec was.
Fast-paced and lots of fun, with bonus giggles for anyone familiar with Boston geography. The fact that it's utterly unpredictable makes it even more fun.
5.0 out of 5 stars from Literary Ashland Sept. 2 2011
By Ed Battistella - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Everyone likes a good dystopia, from Wells and London to Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell, Burgess and M. T. Anderson's Feed. In Fast Eddie-King of the Bees, Robert Arellano takes us to the dystopic Boston of the near future, where a big-footed pickpocketing contortionist becomes the leader of underground Dig City.

Eddie, the pickpocket, starts out as a street orphan mentored by Shep, the faux blind street professor who schools his rats in both grifting and the liberal arts. Eddie leaves Shep's tuteledge in search of his birth parents, but Pauly (the Mayor of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey) and his wife Merry (as in Christmas) fall short. Eddie finds himself falling back through the rabbit hole to the underground city. There's an Oedipal subplot or two--read the title slowly and a little backward and you can get to Oedipus, King of Thebes. There's plenty of other nameplay and wordplay too (go reread Oedipus and match up the names their Greek counterparts for fun).
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