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Plainclothes Naked [Hardcover]

Jerry Stahl
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 11 2001
From legendary cult writer Jerry Stahl comes Plainclothes Naked, a breakout novel that jacks up crime fiction to new heights of twisted, sexy, mind-blowing brilliance.With searing wit and devastating detail, Stahl -- whose work, Jim Carroll has written, "fills the gap in American literature left void since the death of the late, great Terry Southern " -- takes us deep into the minds of addicts and detectives, fetishists and killers. It's a vision of American misfits in a world of violent crime, official corruption, drug-addled scheming, and -- perhaps strangest of all -- genuine, up-from-the-toes true love.In a wildly careening plot that can only be described as crack noir, two pipe-heads accidentally steal a photo of George W. Bush's presidential package with a happy face tattooed on it and decide to blackmail the Republican Party. Before the crack-crazed thieves can follow through, however, a gorgeous, whip-smart young nurse absconds with the goods. But Nurse Tina's got her own problems -- she's just offed her online "money swami" husband with a bowl of Drano-laced Lucky Charms. When Manny Rubert, a scarred ex-junkie turned codeine-popping detective, is called in to investigate the "foamer" hubby's untimely demise, love hits him like a wrench to the head. Soon Manny and Tina are making plans of their own for the presidential pic -- and for their future together. But the meddling police chiefs and motel room sex-change surgeons of the world just won't leave them alone. And then there are those killer crackheads, still out there and closing in...At once a scathing tale of contemporary insanity and a no-holds-barred, tour de force thriller, Plainclothes Naked forges violence and comedy into a criminal love story as shocking as it is transcendent.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Wanton violence. Crushing drug addiction. Sexual abuse. It's the world according to Stahl, back with a third tale of whacked-out people in a whacked-out world (after Perv A Love Story and a memoir, Permanent Midnight). The story plays out around the search for a photograph of George W. Bush having kinky sex with the mayor of a small town outside Pittsburgh. The photo was once in the possession of Tony Zank, a local crackhead who is desperately trying to get it back. Along with his partner, a wanted shovel-murderer named McCardle, Zank leaves a path of freakish, carnal destruction, eventually attracting the attention of Manny Rubert, a police detective with a serious codeine addiction. Rubert has his own reason for wanting the photo. He's the mayor's ex-husband and is curious how and why she did for President Bush what she'd never do for him. Several other misfits including a comically inept police chief and an alluring young woman who once force-fed her husband Drano and crushed glass inhabit the outer edges of the careening, overdeveloped plot. Stahl's talent for supplying a cast of mean yet oddly moving characters is evident, as is his talent for creating tactile, unsettling images. Knife wounds open up "like a wet pair of lips." Bedridden yet still-amorous old ladies whip back the sheets, "revealing seven decades of thigh." It comes all at once the comedy, the tragedy and, always, the vulgarity. The challenge is keeping the object of the mayhem in focus. Stahl's formula can be brutally compelling, but he uses it here to less striking effect. Agent, Sterling Lord. (Nov. 6)Forecast: Stahl an actor as well as a writer has a devoted cult following, including a host of high-profile blurbers, from James Ellroy to Benicio del Toro to Anthony Bourdain. His latest should handily pull in the regulars.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Stahl, author of the critically acclaimed Permanent Midnight (1995), uses his flair for dark comedy to create this hard-boiled crime caper. When Detective Manny Rubert comes into possession of a salacious photograph of George W. Bush, he has to both uncover its mysterious origin as well as fend off its former owners, a horrifyingly sadistic crackhead and his sidekick, an African American Dean Martin look-alike. As Rubert, a former heroin junkie who now pops codeine pills, untangles the mysteries surrounding the picture, he also becomes embroiled in a love affair with the person who gave it to him: a femme fatale nurse who just killed her husband by spiking his cereal with Drano. Stahl crams his novel with colorful characters, from the fatuous police chief whose only knowledge of law enforcement comes from the movies to the plastic surgeon who performs illegal sex-change operations. Readers who are steel-stomached enough to withstand the gruesome violence as well as Stahl's harrowing depiction of crack addiction will well enjoy this fast-paced comic thriller. Brendan Dowling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I've read better. May 24 2004
Format:Paperback
This wasn't bad, or anything. It was just... very unbelievable. I like unbelievable, but not extremely unbelievable. I didn't have to strain to read it. I just kind of said "huh..." when I was done. After I finished reading Permanent Midnight I said "Wow!" I want more of the wow response, Jerry. No more of this huh stuff. Perv was right in between the two with a "Nice"
I don't really know. It just felt like everything had the expectable twists and turns. I mean, I never saw anything coming, but after I read it, I wasn't surprised. There was ONE surprise that caught me off gaurd though. And it was pretty good. When Stahl is good, he absolutely amazes me. When he's not being absolutely smashing, his writing just comes off as blah. Still interesting, but blah at the same time.
In retrospect, this book wasn't that bad. I have read FAR worse (the STRAW MEN by Micheal Marshall; it was a "I can't believe I wasted all that time reading that piece of crap" book). Plainclothes Naked was interesting and fun to read. And while I'll still read anything Jerry Stahl puts out, I wouldn't read this for a second time. Permanent Midnight, maybe. But not this.
Maybe this should be 3.5. Ehh.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Skip this and go for the real thing Nov. 24 2002
Format:Hardcover
"Plainclothes Naked" is antic and manic without ever really becoming funny or entertaining. He's trying and failing to do what Carl Hiasson makes look so easy-- construct a complex, multilined story around a vast number of damaged, low-life characters. Hiaason pulls it off (so did Dave Barry in his first novel, "Big Trouble") but Stahl moves the story too slowly without nearly enough of a sense of urgency to make it work. It reads like a good first draft. Oddly, the second half is better than the first.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stahl is still on his way... Oct. 5 2002
By Wesley
Format:Hardcover
to writing a truly great novel. Perv began so wonderfully and lost a little bit toward the end (in my opinion). Stahl has managed to correct that area with Plainclothes Naked, making it a more consistent novel throughout (not that it doesn't have flaws, but in comparison it is much more consistent), and he has also managed to include more of his trademark use of language that makes reading his Details articles so wonderful. Stahl manages to provide an intelligent sense of humor without trying to curry the favor of the literati by talking down to the average reader. He is willing to have fun, and it seems like he is having fun as he writes. That's great to see when you pick up a book for enjoyment. I devoured the book because of his sense of humor and was ready to read more. Whether or not it matches Permanent Midnight I can say, but it certainly looks like Stahl is progressing in his fiction and I can't wait for the next novel to surpass the two before.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stahl is brilliant March 5 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I loved both of Stahl's previous books, Permanent Midnight--the best drug memoir ever--and Perv, which captured the skeezy side of Flower Power with such precision that any newbie Phish or SCI wookie skank should check it out before getting in a car with some parking lot tour rat. Plainclothes Naked transfers Stahl's dark vision to the noir style, and it's a perfect marriage. More plot-driven than PM or Perv, it's hilarious, driving, disturbing, and ultimately, like all of Stahl's writing, redemptive. Can't wait for the next one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious in Places, but Lacking in Discipline Feb. 24 2002
Format:Hardcover
Stahl has a wickedly imaginitive sense of humor. This novel was laugh-out-loud hilarious in spots, but could have been pruned somewhat to make it a better read. With time, and a firmer-handed editor, Stahl could develop into a very good writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars JOHN WATERS meets ELMORE LEONARD Feb. 3 2002
Format:Hardcover
I read a lot of this kind of book. I like Leonard, Hiaasan, Lehane, Pete Hautman. So when I read the description of this book, I thought I'd give it a try. After receiving it, I realized I all ready OWN "Perv", but never got around to reading it. I'm going to correct THAT oversight immediately. I understand that Stahl overcame a heroin addiction in his life. I don't really care about that. So have I. But, without getting either preachy or nostalgic, Stahl writes about drug addiction like no other writer I've come accross.
Is this book funny? You betcha. A plot synopsis alone will make you laugh. (see above.) and if it doesn't make you laugh, DON'T BUY THE BOOK. Duh.
This book IS prettty heavy on UGLINESS, but it's done in such a comical way that it never makes you want to take a shower. I did, however, think that the book ALMOST goes over the top in a couple scenes, but Stahl is smart enough to never plummet over the edge.
I think my review title says it all. It's John Waters meets Elmore Leonard. And if you don't know who either of those people are, once again, DON'T BUY THIS BOOK!
Thank you for your time. Now...bugger off.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Plainclothes Naked brings to life fictional characters who in many aspects resemble real-life characters from Permanent Midnight. Tina seems to be a fictional manifestation of Kitty; Mayor Marge loosely resembles Sandra, and Tony Zank seems to be at least loosely based on Big G. Manny comes across as the autobiographical voice of Stahl, though heavily immersed in fiction. While I don't think this worked well in Perv, these similarities make Plainclothes Naked an especially familiar and enjoyable read for fans of Permanent Midnight.
Aside from character similarities, small details throughout the book add to this familiar effect. One example that comes to mind is when, in Permanent Midnight, Stahl writes that the pieces of crack Dita held in her hand resemble chunks of bone left over from a cremation. This insight appears as part of the plot of Plainclothes Naked. Not a crucial part of the story, just an interesting touch.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars So-so, not that great.
I read only half this book - that's where it should've logically ended. It started off great, I loved the style but as I kept going on and on, the hilarity of two crack addicts... Read more
Published on Dec 24 2001 by i-read
5.0 out of 5 stars Vastly Original -- A Must Read!
Jerry Stahl has written a hilarious, brilliant, dark and twisted modern-day parody of the Parsifal legend, where the quest for the Holy Grail is played out among characters whose... Read more
Published on Dec 11 2001 by S. Leong
5.0 out of 5 stars A fast-paced story packed with especially zany characters
Take a heathy dose of sex, add a world of detectives and killers, and throw in an ounce of politics and you have a fast-paced story packed with especially zany characters and... Read more
Published on Dec 10 2001 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars One Sick and Funny Puppy
Totally gross, whacked-out, really well written, suspenseful, with an unexpected romantic twist. I laughed out loud a few times reading this insane stuff. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2001 by Sarah Bisman
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Boiled and Well Done !
Stahl's latest is already an underground cult classic ; highly recommended. (no pun intended)!
Published on Nov. 8 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Outlandish & Wonderfully Out 0f Hand!
I cannot reccomend this book enough.
I'm a reader (I read A LOT) and this is simply one of those special mad wonderful books that will be remembered, quoted, cited,... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2001 by Charleyjohn Gallay
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