Basement Of Wolves
Movie star Michael-David is in the midst of a midlife crisis and a career meltdown in Daniel Allen Cox's new novel, "Basement of Wolves." He's hit 40, that watershed age at which sexy roles go to younger contenders and more dignified roles go to older, more venerable actors. Once he completes his latest film role, about a man who spent his youth among wolves, Michael-David finds himself in a terrifying professional wilderness. There's only one thing to do: Go on the lam with a young rent boy in tow.
Part of the actor's problem is that the movie he hoped would propel him to greater artistic credibility is being gutted by profit-minded studio executives, and the film's writer-producer, a fellow named Chris, is meekly going along with it. But his rage and bitterness at this turn of events takes a back seat to his much deeper paranoia as, degree by degree, Michael-David slides into a feverish, almost hallucinatory, state of mind in which his wild imagination takes over. The panicked finds himself conjuring up visions of an increasingly desperate Chris pursuing him, with human wolves snapping at his heels and his common-law marriage disintegrating.
Meantime, Michael-David himself has found a new companion in the person of a teen male hustler named Tim, a mysterious young man who seems to be putting together an arsenal of strange and dangerous weapons. Tim has been suffering nightmares that Michael-Davis is convinced are the result of a kind of psychic contamination emanating from Chris. As the filmmaker closes in on Michael-David and Tim, snares and counter-snares seem set to pull taut--but who is the wolf and who is the hunter, and who will be caught in the end?
Cox's prose is beautifully sculpted, a latticework of intimations and imagery rather than a block of plot and story. There's something both airy and electric about this novel, which eschews many elements of traditional narrative form and feels like something live, uncomfortable, and writhing. Like "Krakow Melt," Cox's last novel, "Basement of Wolves" creates an artistic vision from bits and scraps of pop culture, and is doused in a kind of wry wit that teeters on the edge of an existential freakout.
"Basement of Wolves" is published by Arsenal Pulp Press. May, 2012. Trade paperback original. 151 pages. $15.95. ISBN 978-1-551-524-467