By Maggie J. Dubris
(Soft Skull Press, Paperback, 9781932360257, 238pp.)
Publication Date: May 2004
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Lyrical, violent, and surprisingly passionate, Skels is an inventive yet realistic portrait of the urban underworld from a paramedic's point of view. The story is based on an unusual idea: What would happen if the ambulance world was permeated with the works of past authors, and the homeless patients (the "skels") carried the consciousness of the writers? What would a paramedic do if she met a great poet, dirty and covered with lice, and was granted the chance to save him not from dying but from his own life? A funny, gritty urban thriller, Skels pits corrupt cops, bumbling firemen, drunken softball tournaments, and careening transvestites against this surreal literary environment, realistically portraying a New York City of 1979 rich with an ancient truth that is all but invisible from the outside. The characters within it must face brutality and illness, vengeance and despair, and find help in tenderness and the threads that connect them to the past.