This extraordinary, edgy novel follows the lives of the young residents of Barguss, a small town in western America, made famous because of an unfortunate accident involving a knife-wielding maniac and a runaway blimp. Roo Kickkick & the Big Bad Blimp is by turns wildly funny and warmly affectionate; it’s a story of Hollywood stars and punk bands, teenage crushes and beauty pageants, nobility lurking in unexpected places and the boredom, comedy and violence of small-town life. Gattis is an exceptionally talented writer and this novel reveals his ability to blend the comic and the poignantly tragic to devastating effect. This is a novel that will surprise and entertain, and resonate with readers long after they have finished it.
Read The Overview
Read an Excerpt
Roo Kickkick had been living in the town of Barguss, on Blank Street, less than two months before someone picked a fight with him and broke his face wide open. They curbed him. If you don’t know, that’s when someone opens your mouth and puts it on a curb then kicks the back of your head so hard with their boot heel that the cheek skin around your mouth tears like wet toilet paper and all your teeth come out on the cement like your pocket just ripped and you dropped all your loose change in a clump, except its got blood all over it and you aren’t so sure you want to pick it up. The person who did this to him was…
Raoul de los Dios, who had six fingers on his right hand and so he had to flip people off with his ring finger cuz the middle finger wasn’t the middle finger on his right hand. He didn’t care about ‘nothing or nobody,’ that’s what he always said. Some people say they saw him pick up each one of Roo Kickkick’s teeth and put them in his pocket. One girl who had dirty sex once with Raoul swears that she saw Roo Kickkick’s bicuspids and molars hanging on a cord around his enormous naked neck. But Roo Kickkick wasn’t the first person Raoul de los Dios beat up. That person was…
Thorpe Thorpe. He had an electric/acoustic band called Autistik/Artistik, formerly named Historico Future Co., and he played harp/banjo/two-string bass and gutbucket. He wrote most of the lyrics in his basement that he sublet from his older brother. There was no heating in it and sometimes he got hypothermia so he wrote a song about it called, “The Angel of Death.” He looked like a young Salvador Dalí minus the moustache and he kinda resented that we always told him so. The other half of the duo was…
Thed Teldut, who had originally named the band 6T, which stood for Tee Tee Ta Tee Two Too, but no one ever seemed to get it, so they dropped it. He played the 808, a Dappa© drum machine, Neolix® Super Jam 550 portable guitar/keyboard and the maracas. Their best song, the one that everyone sang along to at their concerts, was “Jacques Derrida, You Arsehole, I Love You” complete with British spelling cuz Thed had gotten to go to London for six days and five nights when he won a summer trip once and picked the spelling up somehow. Since then, Autistik/Artistik had achieved a certain cult status in Barguss and we knew that when…
Florence Mink went to one of their shows. She was born to be a star and everybody knew it. One day, she wore spoons in her hair, at the ends of her pigtails, and everyone thought it was so cool. It was then that we knew she could get away with anything. She even sang the chorus to “J.D.Y.A.I.L.Y.” as it is known among the groupies: “Deconstruct the difference / between you and me / and you and you and me / Monsieur bourgeois munificence,” while standing next to her boyfriend…
Monroe Mister Promised To. He was the kid of the guy that practically owned all of Barguss (car washes and strip malls and ice cream stands) and he always looked bored. He was captain of the ball team and a male model and he had lots of money and so people pretended not to notice when he was so mean to Florence and sometimes people even thought she liked it. Then everything changed.
That’s the day the blimp came. That’s when this starts.
Listen to The Soundtrack
A chronological listing of tracks laced throughout the book. Music was an enormous part of my process when writing this, and often inspiring full scenes.
- "Talk Dirty To Me" by Poison
- "One of Our Submarines" by Thomas Dolby
- "Nite Klub" by The Specials
- "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra
- "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston
- "You Talk Too Much" by RUN DMC
- "Oh Father" by Madonna
- "Bad Nite" by Frank Stallone
- "U Cant Touch This" by MC Hammer
- "have you seen her?" by MC Hammer
- "Tenderness" by General Public
- "Oh! You Pretty Things" by David Bowie
- "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" by Wayne Newton
- "Laura" by Luis Arcaraz
- "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" by Ella Fitzgerald
- "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
- "I Got A Tiger By The Tail" by Buck Owens
- "Pres de Ramparts de Seville" by Maria Callas from CARMEN
- "Rain (I Want A Divorce)" by Ryuichi Sakamoto
- "Lyrics To Go" by A Tribe Called Quest
- "Blaze of Glory" by Bon Jovi