by William Kotzwinkle
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Pub Date 31 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 04 Nov 2021
Meet Tommy Martini, the monk with an anger management problem. Since killing somebody with a single punch is not a needed talent in a monastery, he spends his time praying, meditating, and taking his anger management medicine. But his meditations are interrupted by a legacy from his uncle, a crooked priest. Arriving in a New Age Arizona town to claim his inheritance, Brother Tommy meets a charismatic, smoking-hot cult leader who claims that women are being impregnated by alien beings while they sleep. Tommy’s own sleep is disturbed—by cartel hitmen, Mafia bill collectors, and women intrigued by his vow of chastity. He loses his anger management medicine in time to deal with the hitmen, but the women present an uphill battle.
William Kotzwinkle’s quicksilver touch has produced an effervescent piece of entertainment filled with suspense, turns you won’t see coming, and the humor for which he is famous.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
This is another sparkling book from William Kotzwinkle. This one concerns Tommy Martini. Tommy has spent five years as a monk in Mexico to atone for killing someone as a result of his poor anger management. The death of his uncle leads him to a small Arizona town filled with new-age practitioners and followers. There he claims his inheritance and deals with assorted characters, cult leaders, Mafia and other organized crime members. The book is razor sharp, funny, fast paced and ultimately very thoughtful. A fast and enjoyable read.
William Kotzwinkle writes intensely and voraciously; an intriguing and gripping new book from this authors, whose work I have enjoyed for some time now.
What better way to spend Easter weekend than with a monk in need of anger management?
Felonious Monk was expertly written. The pacing was perfect. The characters were, I don't want to say quirky, but... quirky? Slightly absurd but also believable? And just about everyone was morally ambiguous, at best. The titular monk, we discover at the start, has no real vocation, entering the order as a penance for something he did in a fit of rage. That rage, and his attitude for violence, comes in very handy. His love interest, a con artist with no conscience, was absolutely detestable- she keeps you reading because you need to see if she ever gets what's coming to her.
I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the story. In one way, it was a standard sort of manly thriller with intellectual aspirations. In an other, it was bleak and uncomfortable, almost an exercise in futility, a brief, violent chapter in a man's life that comes to nothing, with no lasting (or even temporary) effects. The monk ends the story in much the same mental and emotional state that he begins it in.
The ending left me cold. There was no feeling of satisfaction upon completion, you know? And because of that I'm not really sure how to rate it. There were aspects that were great, some really fantastic lines and some interesting, thought-provoking concepts, but overall? I don't know.
This story is definitely character driven in their words, thoughts, and actions. With enough twists to keep you guessing, the added benefit of humor is welcomed.
Can I give this more than five stars? One of the BEST reads in a while, and a hoot of a romp where Tony Soprano meets Pulp Fiction and battles the Vatican and his family and a drug lord among others after leaving the monastery? Bring it on! A diverse and out-there cast of characters that kept me reading often laughing, and seriously rooting for Tommy and Dominic. We need more of this - rooting for a follow on!
Laugh out loud funny and features a crazy and diverse cast of very entertaining characters. This is but another great book from William Kotzwinkle. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a funny pulpy story that doesn't take itself too seriousy.
William Kotzwinkle is back! Over 15 years since his last novel and nearly that long for the most part since even his last children's book, the once-prolific author finally has a new book out. As private as he is, I can't find any explanation for his absence. But as a longtime fan, having read almost all of the 25 or so titles he published during the 1970s and 80s, I welcome him back -- with thanks to him and his publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC of Felonious Monk and review it.
Kotzwinkle is best known for his novelization of E.T. at the invitation of and in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. I already knew him well from reading The Fan Man (several times) back in the 70s -- as a denizen of the East Village in those days, though not quite at the level (low as it was) of Horse Badorties, I (along with my friends) freely quoted him for years to come. I even re-read it a couple of years ago and found it as funny as ever.
All that said, I'm not clear why Kotzwinkle chose to make his return with a book like Felonious Monk. After 15 years, something like Gravity's Rainbow or Infinite Jest would have seemed right -- a life work of grand proportions free of commercial considerations. Nevertheless, it is a light, breezy, easy read that is well crafted and certainly entertaining. The best I can come up with is that this is Kotzwinkle's example of a book in the Pulp Fiction genre -- a violent crime novel with a humorous satirical tone.
Tommy Martini is the title character, a gifted fighter of superhuman proportions, born into an organized crime family, found at the start of this story living as a monk in Mexico to atone for accidentally killing a man with his bare hands. When his guardian priest uncle dies, he returns to Arizona and is reluctantly drawn back into a life of crime, albeit with his monkish moral compass directing his anger and aggression toward truly evil people.
Landing in Paloma, a thinly veiled stand-in for Sedona, Tommy has to deal with the Mafia, the Mexican Cartel, the more corrupt precincts of the Catholic Church, and a sexy new age con artist and her body snatching alien entities. Always understated by invariably right on target with cutting wit, especially when eviscerating the new age mumbo jumbo that proliferates in a place like Sedona, Tommy proves to be a different kind of Everyman who manages to find his way through an ever-growing body count.
As a fan (man), I found this to be a fun return to form for an author I've read heavily, really in the wheelhouse of his prior body of work. But I'm left wondering what William Kotzwinkle has been up to over the past decade and a half to not have continued to produce this kind of book all along on a more regular basis, or returned instead with a life work.
I reviewed this book for Shelf-Awareness.com (link attached)
by William Kotzwinkle
A monk inherits an uncle's estate and a $2 million debt to an organized crime ring in William Kotzwinkle's darkly funny crime thriller Felonious Monk.
Tommy Martini had a bright future, until he accidentally killed someone with a single punch. Luckily, his uncle with mob connections, Father Vittorio, stepped in to make a deal, whisking Tommy off to a Mexican monastery where the young man could show his contrition. The deal came with court-mandated medication to combat Tommy's anger. For five years, Tommy thrives as a monk, until he's summoned at age 26 to Vittorio's deathbed.
At Vittorio's estate in Paloma, Ariz., Tommy faces both culture shock and the rest of the criminally-minded Martini family. Everyone is shocked when Tommy inherits Vittorio's estate. Most of the family want him dead, but cousin Dominic throws away Tommy's meds and begs him to fight professionally. Tommy is about to give away his inheritance and return to the monastery when two thugs show up to collect $2 million Vittorio owed. No longer on medication, Tommy beats up the thugs and decides to forgo a life of peace until he eliminates his uncle's enemies.
Seasoned novelist William Kotzwinkle (Doctor Rat) tempers the blood-soaked brutality in Felonious Monk with tough-guy witticisms: "Rage is good.... It's part of evolution." "When you put someone in the ground your mood improves." "I don't kill all my men, Martini, just some of them." Kotzwinkle's writing draws readers into the righteous violence rather than push them away. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer
Discover: In this pulpy crime thriller, killer-turned-monk Tommy Martini does a lot of wrong in the name of doing right.
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