Pianist in a Bordello
Richard Milhous Nixon Youngblood—better known as Dickie, is running for Congress in California. A Democrat, Dickie is certain that his “first completely honest political autobiography” will be the winning ticket to get him elected. His personal account is an interesting one, to say the least, especially growing up with a dad who is an enigmatic radical hippie and wanted by the FBI, a mom who is a New Age yoga instructor with a right-wing leaning, and his staunchly Republican grandfather who is a well-known congressman. But as his story unfolds and election time draws near, problems pop up along the way—especially with his obsessed “girlfriend.”
Steeped in political satire, Mike C. Erickson’s debut novel offers a hilarious look into the issue of transparency. Erickson’s first-person narrative, set in 2010, opens with a chaotic prologue of campaign staffers urging the ever-optimistic Dick not to go through with his autobiography before Dick delves into his life story. Erickson has created a character whom is contrary to that of the near-pristine Forrest Gump from the epic movie that bears the same name. Aside from Dick’s unfortunate name, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, as his radical ideas reflect that of his consistently elusive, yet iconic, father. As a result, Dick finds himself in various precarious circumstances, especially with his antagonists. And, again, contrary to the unexpected, yet heroic, feats of Forrest, it’s not Dick who gets himself out of sticky situations, but Dick’s father, who has an uncanny ability of showing up out of nowhere. It also helps to have a friend like Sacathy, a computer wizard of sorts.
True to Dick’s salacious moniker, his list of female companions goes on and on. Erickson’s character doesn’t delve into erotic scenes. Yet, at the same time, Dick feels compelled to “tell it as it is”—transparency—to his future reading audience. While interweaving Dick’s love life into the sketch of his autobiography, Erickson sates Dick’s account with familial and personal background that highlights historical markers (much like in Forrest Gump) from the 1960s on. Markers include Students of a Democratic Society, the Black Panthers, the Kent State shooting, Watergate, Grenada, the Iran-Contra Affair, South African apartheid, Tiananmen Square protest, the Dot-Com Crash, and 9/11—just to name a few. But Erickson does not stop there. He also includes a slew of issues that are still pertinent today, such as animal rights, pro-life, and LGBT rights.
With an interesting combination of literary tools to keep Erickson’s plot constantly moving—opening chapters with sarcastic quotes, alternating between the above mentioned scenes, various plot twists, and closing on a humorous, yet thought-provoking note, Pianist in a Bordello is definitely a fun read for all.
Mike C. Erickson
Tri -Rhyme Publications/Mike C. Erickson