In the 1950s, when Hollywood was losing big chunks of its audience to television, producers fought back with everything from CinemaScope to Smell-O-Vision. Today, faced with a similar loss of audience, the book trade is experimenting with its own modes of gimmickry. Fast Sofa represents the Smell-O-Vision end of the scale.
Packaged for sale to boys in the 16-to-22-year-old bracket, Bruce Craven’s Fast Sofa has a Mondo Violence cartoon cover, not too many words per page, and a parental advisory label. The publisher has slapped that enticing warning on the cover because this ”novel” is accompanied by a tucked-in vinyl recording featuring a band called the Flesh Eaters. ”Play this novel loud!” advises rockin’ William Morrow & Co.
Play a few pages and you discover that Fast Sofa is a lugubrious affair about a couple of 25-year-old nothings who resemble Wayne and Garth gone alcoholic and morose. One of these mopes drops out of the story by the midpoint. The other goes on a road trip from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, Calif., and back again. There are also two female characters: a waitress- actress (who is boring) and a porn actress (who is, big surprise, even more boring). Patches of would-be poetry and symbolism, with a capital S, retard the already lackadaisical narrative while demonstrating that the author — who is a business-school administrator — feels superior to the burnouts he’s writing about and presumably peddling to.
I read Fast Sofa on the sofa. I fell asleep. D