Review: Triceratops by Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman's Triceratops tells the story of two remarkable twentysomethings from the West Coast set adrift in the madness of New York City: Charlotte, roaming the streets armed only with a liquor addiction, a mouth like a sailor, and her artist ex-lover’s disturbing final work; and Henry, a guy whose primary life concerns involve Beat generation poets and a dedicated knowledge of jazz music. After spending a hazardous night together back in Seattle Henry and Charlotte never expected to see one another again – and definitely not on the other side of the country, in the middle of the night, in the middle of an empty New York street. But as their lives work their perverse magic the two are thrown together for three weeks filled with the sort of insanity that only New York City is capable of. Swallowed up in a scene filled with art, music, sexuality, liquor, drugs, and madness, the two find friends, lovers, and enemies amid New York’s wildest array of characters: its musicians and artists.

Combining dark comedy with astonishing real-life insight, Triceratops works itself into a spectacle of the bizarre, and the result is rather brilliant. Gorman’s ability to handle scenes that alter between being utterly brazen and entirely relatable is a remarkable talent, and he executes it wonderfully. Woven within the fascinating mayhem of their setting, his characters offer transformative reflections on life and human nature that not only build their own perceptions, but reach out and cause the reader to reflect on them as well. It makes for a mesmerizing experience, while other elements of the book entertain on a lighter level. The combination was enough to leave me speechless after the novel’s final pages, and exhausted in that way that great books often leave us.

I loved that the story was told from the alternating perspectives of Charlotte and Henry, the transition between which was, for the most part, indicated only by the narrative’s change of tone. While I found the book comfortable to navigate, giving the narration decidedly more attention also allowed me to best appreciate the artistry of Gorman's prose. This style of writing will keep the reader on their toes, much as the story itself does. It contributed, I thought, to the artfully woven sense of disarray that the story often provoked; a metaphor, perhaps, for the haphazard situations the characters find themselves in, but underneath the surface it always manages, fantastically, to make sense. While perhaps the subject matter may not be for every audience, beneath the bold exterior of many scenes is a profound intelligence that will be deeply felt by its audience. Gorman’s selection of characters through which these insights are carried connect the reader especially with the uniqueness of humanity and the natural differences we all possess. Never without substance, Triceratops is at once powerful and amusing, offering readers an experience unlike any other.

Title: Triceratops Author: Marcus Gorman Genre: Literary Fiction Publisher: Marcus Gorman Available Formats: paperback, e-book Release date: October 25, 2012 Provided by: Marcus Gorman (c/o) Buy the book: Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble Connect with the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Triceratops