Jen Banbury – Like a Hole in the Head


A 20-something woman named Jill works at a used bookstore in Los Angeles, spending more time reading and daydreaming than actually working. Like her already? Me, too.

One seemingly average day, a dwarf with a strange speech impediment (the words "la la" randomly pepper his speech) walks in with a copy of Jack London's The Cruise of the Snark. Not only that, it's inscribed from London to a Francis someone or other, and it's a FIRST EDITION with DUSTJACKET. Our Jill bolts to the back room, to compare the signature with a known one by London. And it matches. Long story short, the dwarf has no idea what the book's worth, so he sells it for a pittance – $ 25.

Jill turns around and sells the book the same day, to a different book dealer. She makes a great profit, selling it for around $ 400, knowing it's worth much more.

Unfortunately, a very large man – an acquaintance of the dwarf – wants the book back. Badly. He visits Jill and lets her know, in unsubtle terms, if she doesn't get this particular copy of this particular book back to him within 24 hours she'll no longer need to breathe oxygen.

What follows is a fast-paced part slapstick comedy, part violent breathtakingly wild ride, as Jill races madly to find the dealer to whom she sold the book before he sells it. Jill is a smart-mouthed and street smart woman with just enough lack of fear for her life (it's complicated) to do pretty much anything to get this book back.

The book becomes a short of mafioso-type, drunken ride, becoming by turns violent then hilariously funny. What Jill gets herself into in the course of the book is nowhere near believable, but it's that ridiculousness that also adds to the fun of the book.

By the end things get ludicrous, and no I'm not saying anything about the book and whether she gets it back. But if you don't find this sort of constant-action, slapstick, alcohol and sexually infused book fun I can tell you now you won't like it. I don't know what it says about me, but I loved it. 'Til the end and things went all weird, but she had to wrap things up somehow. What are you gonna do.

A fun, very quick read.

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446675172

* I read a library copy of this book.

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