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Illustrator Road's overwrought debut novel chronicles the life of Carmencita Gutierrez Alonzo, a young bisexual Cuban-American punk rocker living a life of grungy hedonism in New York City, who traffics in head-scratching asides like, "The world as we knew it tried our toxicity, but in our loose pockets we often broke out a malevolent champagne." The plot is sparse; instead, readers are hit with a barrage of vignettes of bar life, parties, drug binges and mostly ill-fated romances. Far better than the text are Road's illustrations, found on nearly every page. Displaying a cinematic eye for composition, Road adorns her novel with memorable illustrations, including a Miami sky full of gun-shaped clouds, and Carmencita and a lover embracing, a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor visible on his arm. Less happily, the more than a dozen portraits of Carmencita reinforce the text's navel-gazing aspects. Regardless of whether Carmencita is hopelessly shallow or a wounded soul, Road's drawings deserve a better vehicle. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.