Available July, 2016 Coerte V. W. Felske, noted Zeitgeist chronicler of the skin-deep and shameless age, flits, flaps, stretches wings, and struts with his fifth novel, The Ivory Stretch (The Dolce Vita Press, 2016). Frenetic, bedazzling, idiosyncratic, and uniquely original this wild ride of a narrative showcases protagonist Billy Sixkiller who seizes the reader's imagination and forces him to gaze into the heart of the American psyche in the great tradition of Twain, Kerouac, Kesey, and McCarthy. Through Billy, the author launches a revenge tale steeped in the Native American ethos to create a vivid snapshot of conflicted 21st Century America. "Billy Six"--a modern-day Odysseus if not Moses himself--is a larger-than-life anti-hero who takes dispirited road companions on an adventure of a lifetime of his own design, a postmodern Vision Quest of spiritual renewal. Billy slices through the breathtaking settings of the Southwest in a supercharged white limousine, blasting wide the eyes of his unsuspecting roadies--the Parisian orphaned Frenchy and his suicidal captive Roland. Billy kidnaps the dead-souled novelist for a past crime, but a curious relationship develops between the two which is the beating heart of the story. The emotionally recessive prisoner develops an amorous bond with spiritually-starved Frenchy, Billy's former lover. This shifting three-way and unlikely clashing of personalities and intimate motivations staves off predictability and the narrative surprises the reader at every turn. When the trio take to the highway in the stretch limo the novel comprises one of the great road trips found in American literature with echoes of Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Thompson's Fear and Loathing. Dramatic ironies compound as the charismatic, dazzlingly unpredictable Billy, seeking to avenge the murder of his parents, ends up giving his emotionally voided prisoner a new appreciation for life. Billy hauls him across deserts and Indian lands for five sleep-deprived days to peel away a lifetime's layers of anguish and blow the winds of life back into the man's lungs. Perceptive though manipulated, profane yet sacred, gentlemanly but diabolical, and like a bomb going off in a fireworks factory, Billy explodes onto the page spouting his artillery of language like shrapnel. His prescient and irreverent rants border on the Whitmanesque and his outlaw spirit embodies the journeying aspect of the American character; a contemporary equivalent of the searchers in Kerouac's On the Road and Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion. The sexy-feisty Frenchy is another full-bodied personage who evolves before our eyes. Simultaneously thrilling, noirish, crackling and detouring, the electric prose masterfully seasoned with philosophies, historical asides, tribal customs, diaries, and individual paths to enlightenment gives the tome a hightened reality while remaining true to the enchanting milieu of L'Amour and sensibilities of McCarthy to forge a new kind of western. Felske, who previously lasered in on fast lane culture, has gone lyrical, poetic, even classic here, with his boldest and most significant work. The author transports his eye for detail on a different kind of "dolce vita" that is equally sweet but twice as spicy. Like a gun barrel to the back, The Ivory Stretch forces the reader to contemplate the vulgar and divine, entwining sex, lyricism, violence, and spirituality to inspire deeper epiphanies. With its author's mythic vision of a desert death trip that transforms into something more life-affirming, TIS claims its place in the American literary tradition and Billy Sixkiller joins the pantheon of great fictional character creations. Evoking whispers of some of literature's finest, TIS sets the imagination ablaze with an unforgettable, high-octane, adrenaline rush ride which haunts the psyche well after the story's climactic conclusion. An author's literary triumph indeed.
Used availability for Coerte V W Felske's The Ivory Stretch
June 2016 : USA Paperback