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Three Days As the Crow Flies.

by Danny Simmons Atria Books, June 2003 $24.00, ISBN 0-7434-6640-3

This debut from Danny Simmons, an abstract-expressionist painter and poet, succeeds more as a piece of pulp fiction than as a literary feat. It's an affable yarn about a bumbling coke junkie's Caligula-like romp through the 1980s Manhattan art scene, but it won't be heralded for silken prose. Sometimes unimaginative, clunky language can be pardoned if a writer comes correct with a good narrative, and that's where Mr. Simmons triumphs.

By relaying his account through flashy visuals, the author concocts a fun, funky, B-movie story set against the exciting backdrop of The City. You can almost hear the soundtrack blaring from a ghetto blaster as you read: a thrashing but intriguing medley of Blondie, the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC.

Crow, the hero, steals three paintings and a manuscript from an artist friend for drug money. In an effort to sell his friend's art, he bumbles into a debauched carnival of sex and drugs. Simmons recreates the grit of the era and cameos real-life figures like Basquiat, Warhol, Fab Five Freddy and even his brother Russell Simmons. (Danny is cofounder of the Def Poetry Jam series.)

Crow befriends a number of eccentric personalities on his trip (the transvestite art dealer, the clairvoyant hot mama) who adopt him and introduce him to his version of heaven. The further he slips into his assumed nirvana, the more he's overtaken by the lasciviousness of the scene, and inevitably his fraudulent identity will be exposed.

Three Days As the Crow Flies has a tight flow and sharp dialogue. This entertaining novel noir is a commendable attempt by an artist working outside his traditional medium.
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Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Venable, Malcolm
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:280
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