Crooked Little Vein
By Warren Ellis
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780060723934, 288pp.)
Publication Date: July 4, 2007
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Burned-out private detective and self-styled shit magnet Michael McGill needed a wake-up call to jump-start his dead career. What he got was a virtual cattle prod to the crotch, in the form of an impossible assignment delivered directly from the president's heroin-addict chief of staff. It seems the Constitution of the United States has some skeletons in its closet: the Founding Fathers doubted that the document would be able to stave off human nature indefinitely, so they devised a backup Constitution to deploy at the first sign of crisis. In the government's eyes, that time is now, as America is overgrown with perverts who spend more time surfing the Web for fetish porn than they do reading a newspaper. They want to use this "Secret Constitution" to drive the country back to a time when civility, God, and mom's homemade apple pie were all that mattered.
The only problem is, no one can seem to find it . . .
So who better to track it down than a private dick who's so down-and-out that he's coming up the other side, a shamus whose only skill is stumbling into every depraved situation imaginable?
With no lead to speak of, and no knowledge of the underground world in which the Constitution has traveled, McGill embarks on a cross-country odyssey of America's darkest, dankest underbelly. Along the way, his white-bread sensibilities are treated to a smorgasbord of depravity that runs the gamut of human imagination. The filth mounts; it is clear that this isn't the kind of life, liberty, or happiness that Thomas Jefferson thought Americans would enjoy in the twenty-first century.
But what McGill learns as he closes in on the real Constitution is that freedom takes many forms, the most important of which may be the fight against the "good old days." Like Vonnegut, Orwell, and Huxley before him, Warren Ellis deftly exposes the hypocrisy of the "moral majority" by giving us a glimpse at the monstrous outcome that their overzealous policies would achieve.
“Warren Ellis writes like a bi-polar Raymond Chandler.”
-Kinky Friedman, author of Ten Little Indians
“[A] snappily paced homage to William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.”
“A high-energy joyride.”
“So funny you may just laugh out loud.”
“Get ready for a wonderful kick in the teeth that’ll make you lick your bloody lip with masochistic joy. ”
-Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author of THE BOOK OF FATE and writer of The Justice League series
“Funny, inventive and blithely appalling, this book is Dante on paint fumes.”
-Joss Whedon, creator, writer and director of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series
“CROOKED LITTLE VEIN is a gem of a book -- angry, hilarious, and just plain weird...compulsively so.”
-Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling co-author of HUNTERS OF DUNE
“CROOKED LITTLE VEIN...is a book readers will not soon forget.”
“[A] much-needed kick in the butt for a genre that may be more stagnant than its enthusiasts realize.”
“There’s at least one surprise, laugh, and genius turn of phrase per page here. ”
“[S]omewhere between the noir of Frank Miller and dark comedy of Chuck Palahniuk.”
“Rich, dark humor and biting look at the world.”
“[C]ompletely compulsive, impossible to put down.”
-Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“[A] brilliantly nasty and weird detective novel.”
-Entertainment Weekly, EW 100 Pick
“Think Kurt Vonnegut having tea with William Burroughs and a bipolar Raymond Chandler...Ellis takes your breath away.”
-Madison County Herald (Mississippi)
“[L]augh-out-loud funny...a deeply inventive look at the undercurrents beneath the mainstream popular culture.”
“Ellis is a formidable talent whose wit and insight fit perfectly into the crime genre.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Packed with exciting, hilarious, and disturbing events...outrageously entertaining.”
-Winnipeg Free Press
“[A] fast-paced and funny read...unforgettable.”
“Not for the faint of heart...surprisingly funny (with shades of Lamb author Christopher Moore).”
“CROOKED LITTLE VEIN is a wild, rambling, funny look at the dark alleys of the American sexual landscape.”
-Neal Bohl for Crimespree
“A relentlessly fascinating page-turner...brilliantly and effervescently subversive.”
-The Gazette (Montreal)
“If you’re looking for an antidote to the stifling formulae of genre fiction, this could be your book.”
-New York magazine
“[M]ay be destined to become one of the great underground classics of the 21st century.”
-Lansing State Journal
“Stop it. You’re frightening me.”
-William Gibson, author of Spook Country
“A heart-shredding work of scatological brilliance that gleefully annihilates private-eye tropes and pole-vaults over taste lines.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org