Poppy Z. Brite, Plastic Jesus (Subterranean Press, 2000)
I tried not to be negatively influenced when reading Plastic Jesus by the fact that it is, essentially, a piece of fan fiction about one of the most ridiculously hyped, and the single most overrated, band in music history. Unfortunately, I don't think I succeeded.
Plastic Jesus is the story of the two founding members of a sixties rock sensation called the Kydds. (Oh, let's drop it. It's John and Paul. I mean, even the illustrations are... you know.) The book jacket gives away the whole thing, but I'll just sketch here; the story opens with one of them being shot dead in New York in 1980. (Guess which?) It then goes back and traces the genesis of the band to that point, while attempting to explain why he got shot. The fictional part of it is that, pursuant to Brite's usual obsessions, he's shot because of homophobia, because the two of them are gay.
Well, little surprise there. And when I can divorce myself from the subject matter, it's workable, if workmanlike, Brite; quick, easy reading, pages turning at a decent pace. The characters are believable (though one tends to suspect that's because they're based on real people here, rather than any native authorial skill), the plot plausible. The theme less so, but then, this is a work of fantasy, so we'll allow a little leeway. On this level, at least.
And this is where it breaks down. The line between professional work and fan fiction is usually more a chasm than a line, but sometimes it gets blurry. Plastic Jesus is very much one of those times. While it's quite obviously the work of Poppy Z. Brite (and thus as polished and professional as anything she puts out), it still treads uncomfortably close to the slash line too many times.(Again, I cause myself to wonder if I'd have had this problem were it, say, X-Files fan fiction or John Lee Hooker fan fiction or... you get the idea.)
The bottom line is it's readable. Whether you will find its subject matter to your taste is likely a matter of personal choice. I can't stand the Beatles, never could, and that negatively affected my ability to read this. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. ***