Happy Mutant Baby Pills: A Novel

( 1 )


Lloyd has a particular set of skills. He writes the small print for prescription drugs, marital aids, and incontinence products. The clients present him with a list of possible side effects. His job is "to recite and minimize"—sometimes by just saying them really fast and other times by finding the language that can render them acceptable. The results are ingenious. The methods diabolical.

Lloyd has a habit, too. He cops smack during coffee breaks at his new job writing copy for...

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Happy Mutant Baby Pills

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Lloyd has a particular set of skills. He writes the small print for prescription drugs, marital aids, and incontinence products. The clients present him with a list of possible side effects. His job is "to recite and minimize"—sometimes by just saying them really fast and other times by finding the language that can render them acceptable. The results are ingenious. The methods diabolical.

Lloyd has a habit, too. He cops smack during coffee breaks at his new job writing copy for Christian Swingles, an online dating service for the faithful. He finds a precarious balance between hackwork and heroin until he encounters Nora, a mysterious and troubled young woman, a Sylvia Plath with tattoos and implants, who asks for his help.

Lloyd falls swiftly in love, but Nora bestows her affections at a cost. Before Lloyd clears his head from the fog of romance, he finds himself complicit in Nora's grand scheme to horrify the world and exact revenge on those who poison the populace in order to sell them the cure.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lloyd, a strung-out former Big-Pharma copy cranker—a “Side Effects Specialist” who coined the term “anal leakage”—narrates Stahl’s latest junkie novel (after Pain Killers and Bad Sex on Speed), as well as a prologue he accurately describes as “the world’s longest cocktail napkin.” Lloyd’s on the lam after a failed pharmacy heist with other jonesing copywriters from the dating site Christian Swingles, when he falls for a mysterious beauty sitting in the Greyhound bus seat next to him. Nora Funk, who claims to write greeting cards, wants to destroy her old boss: “I want to fuck with him... the worst way you fuck with anybody.” Lloyd proffers his help, and descends into “a particular demoralization that comes from thinking you were out of the woods, and then the woods turn out to be a park, and the park’s in front of the Petrified Forest. Which is full of man-eating boars. Who only eat men who look like you.” Stahl’s fans will forgive the halting start and sudden end to this fleshed-out satiric novella, at the heart of which lies a transgression too obscene—and too sharply revealing of Americans’ complicity in big-business ills—to describe here. (Nov.)
Entertainment Weekly
“Stahl’s brilliantly demented riffs deserve to be read—or screamed—aloud.”
New Yorker
“A better-than-Burroughs virtuoso.”
Los Angeles Times
“If you happen to have a deeply twisted sense of what’s funny, Stahl will tickle.”
James Ellroy
“Jerry Stahl is the American hipster bard.”
Jim Carroll
“Jerry Stahl’s work fills the gap in American literature left void since the death of the late, great Terry Southern.”
Eric Bogosian
“Every copy of this book should come with a box of Depends® because the reader will be wetting himself laughing. If there is such a thing as truth, Jerry Stahl has it hostage.”
Legs McNeil
“Jerry Stahl is truly twisted, truly gifted.”
Lydia Lunch
“Jerry Stahl squirts forth another brutal and hilarious masterpiece of literary burlesque. Happy Mutant Baby Pills is so good it hurts.” ”
Nick Tosches
“It is one thing, fine and rare, to write from the heart. It is another thing, finer and rarer, to write from the secret unutterable chambers of the heart. Jerry Stahl, whose words are as cool and deadly striking as a cottonmouth, does just that.
Sam Lipsyte
“Jerry Stahl is one of our last defenders against the darkness and Happy Mutant Baby Pills is a deeply funny and devastating warning label for the world we live in, a world that is ultimately, as Stahl brilliantly demonstrates, one giant side effect.”
Benicio Del Toro
“Jerry Stahl’s writing will flip you—flip you for real.”
Anthony Bourdain
“Jerry Stahl should either get the Pulitzer Prize or be shot down in the street like a dog.”
Marc Maron
“No one can make me laugh while kicking me down the dark tunnel of self like Jerry Stahl.”
Richard Lange
“A dope-fueled hellride to the black heart of New Weird America. Stahl turns his satirical scalpel on Big Pharma, environmental contamination, conspiracy theorists, the Occupy movement, CSI, Christian swingles, and adult babies, eviscerating our silly/scary society in search of its soul. Profoundly disturbing, profoundly funny, and profoundly moving.”
“With read-aloud quality prose and characters we can’t look away from, Happy Mutant Baby Pills is a deeply disturbing, deeply funny look at a society desperately in need of assistance.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Stahl’s brilliantly demented riffs deserve to be read--or screamed--aloud.”
Kirkus Reviews
Stahl's (Pain Killers, 2009, etc.) eighth novel trips through the travails of Lloyd, copywriter and heroin junkie. And what a trip it is: ribald, tumbling through a don't-look-back narrative, laced with rude, wicked and beyond-the-edge social observations. Lloyd is "[a]nother doomed DeLillo with a day job," a career path spiraling downward from writing sanitized pharmaceutical side effects warnings through Penthouse Forum fake letters to disingenuous shills for Christian Swingles, a dating site. Lloyd is fueled by heroin, his maintenance drug after a career of "Plexiglas-cut crack, questionable E, bathtub crank." It's only self-destructive until he's conned into a fake robbery by Swingle cohorts and then exiled by Greyhound from Tulsa to LA. In transit, he meets Nora, a "buxom bad-attitude pixie...and...wanna-martyr." Nora's paranoia seduces him into murder; her addicting sexuality prompts him to commit another. In LA, Lloyd signs on as a writer specializing in sexual perversion deaths for the CSI franchise. What appears to be a sendup of big pharma, television from Bruckheimer to Oprah, genetically modified organisms, Christian dating, Oral Roberts and the greeting card industry then veers into eco-surrealism. Nora claims pregnancy, the sire, a high-powered CEO, and after a quick segue into the foibles of Occupy-rallying LA hippies, Nora begins ingesting chemicals--"half the sprays and solvents in the household cleaning aisle, along with enough of the Physicians' Desk Reference to fill the trunk of a Buick." Nora intends to birth a mutant baby--"a message, a global warning, a kind of toxic inoculation of the entire species." No cheers are due Lloyd or Nora, and supporting characters are equally deformed, including former Christian Swingle workmates Jay and Riegle, a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern pairing fantasizing about riding Nora's pregnancy into reality television wealth. A grotesque and lurid allegorical tale, this is not for the faint of heart. Bukowski spawned the School of Dirty Realism. Consider this Dirty Surrealism, social satire as aberrant hipster irony.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061990502
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 802,227
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Stahl is the author of the narcotic memoir Permanent Midnight and Perv—a Love Story, both Los Angeles Times bestsellers, as well as the acclaimed novels Pain Killers, Plainclothes Naked, and I, Fatty. He has written extensively for film and television.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    a bit "out there"

    but very funny and entertaining

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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