Bucket of Face by Eric Hendrixson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When a book starts with a charging acorn yelling “Leroy Jenkins!,” you know that you’re in for the weird.
Charles is a doughnut shop worker with a kiwi fruit girlfriend. Huh? Well, many years back, a mysterious silver pollen appeared and began spreading, which turned fruit sentient. Since then, society has generally integrated these fruit. But when the fruit mafia has a shootout in the doughnut shop. Charles covers it up, making the dead fruits into pastries and taking a briefcase full of Zimbabwe dollars and a specimen bucket full of human faces, hence the title. A hit-tomato who is searching for respect because many don’t consider him a real fruit, sets out to recover the stolen goods. Think of it as No Country for Old Men, just with talking fruit. That gives you Bucket of Face in a nutshell.
This is one of those books that’s genuinely difficult to talk about, even in generalities, for fear of giving too much away, because there is a surprising amount to discover. This book obviously has a bizarre humor which is sometimes dark and…well, I don’t know if fruit murder is considered dark or not. A common complaint that I have with a lot of bizarro books is that they are too short and I want more. But with Bucket of Face, the length is actually quite perfect. And, interestingly, Hendrixson seems to have put in a lot of thought into the nature and biology of sentient fruit. An almost creepy amount of thought. Anyone check his greenhouse lately?
One breakout bit for me that is not mentioned in any of the promotions or on the cover are the two cops, Mortimer and Mayflower. These cops are actually quite aristocratic, but they put on the face of the low-brow sarcastic beat cop because, simply, that’s what people expected. Those two had me laughing out loud. I would really love to see more of those two show up later.
A complaint that I do have is that there are some editing problems. I know this seems like it shouldn’t be a significant issue, but for me it is and it breaks the flow of some otherwise sublime prose. It may be the teacher in me talking.
I’m looking forward to more of Hendrixson’s work, especially if it involves Mortimer and Mayflower in some way. I’d really like to see where this author goes and what else he’s got up his sleeve, since Bucket of Face, while having a relatively typical crime story, has such an interesting motif that it gives this typical story a fresh twist.
Bucket of Face by Eric Hendrixson earns 4 apple fritters out of 5.