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Happy Talk: A Novel

Gun-slinging American student nurses and boozy New York--playwrights-turned-educational-filmmakers find themselves stuck in the Haiti of 1955 as part of a government plan to pump up tourism and turn the Magic Island into the next Hawaii. The story follows the travels of Culprit Clutch, who appears mostly through rumor and innuendo, and his strange encounters with a plane-hopping British spy, Haitian street magicians, and a Scandinavian zombie. Josie, Culprit's ghostly paramour with a morphine habit, may or may not have voodoo spirits flowing through her, but the power-mad doctor channeling Baron Samedi is sure as hell bent on Culprit's destruction. The novel's cascading epilogues include a legendary car race down the length of Mexico; street theatre in Golden Gate Park, circa 1968; a Skylab mutiny; origins of the musical comedy Godspell; and cameos by the Nation of Islam and early followers of Jim Jones.
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About the Author

Richard Melo has written for Publishers Weekly, The Oregonian, Willamette Week, and The Believer. A graduate of San Francisco State University, he lives in Portland, OR where the world's rivers and oceans are always falling from the sky.


Ambitious...dazzling...Melo is a great spinner of yarns through polyphonic hearsay--Publishers Weekly Often one finds surprises in a novel, but it is rare to find a novel that is a surprise. Richard Melo's Happy Talk is just that. It is like a collision of William Gaddis, MASH and The Beguiled. It is a Haiti I could never have imagined and will not soon forget. These nurses are crazy and I wish I knew them.--Percival Everett Happy Talk is a ribald and fantastic act of literary derring-do. Richard Melo has written a delightful throwback, an absurdist romp in the tradition of Terry Southern, that is sure to challenge and reward its readers.--Jonathan Evison To read Happy Talk is to crash a party as vivid and surreal as Fellini's 81/2. It's the business of show business, the American dream, told by a chorus of Americans locked just outside of that dream, outside of the United States, relegated to expatriate status on the shores of Haiti. Melo paints a version of Haiti that's an interior landscape perhaps even more than an external place. This Haiti is a plan, a memory, a morphine-drip fueled dream out to bond its inhabitants forever.--Monica Drake, author of Clown Girl "Melo has the rhythm and grab-bag ambition of Tom Robbins." -- Resonance

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