Tom Osborne (author); BUDGE; Anvil Press (Fiction: Literary) 20.00 ISBN: 9781897535998
Byline: Christopher Soden
Budge is one of the more quirky, unconventional, picaresque novels to come along in a while. It can be pleasurable, if the reader is willing to roll with Osborne's approach to prose, which is original, if not necessarily expedient. Osborne tends to dance all around a point before he makes it, and his paragraphs can go on for quite a bit, without necessarily being cumbersome. In comparison to similar authors, he's like Faulkner without the density, Stein without the obtuseness, or Thomas Wolfe without the extravagance; of those, he's closest to Wolfe. There's a rhythm to Budge's text that Osborne might not have achieved with a more minimalist approach. There's a sense he's luxuriating in the weaving of his narrative, repeating certain key phrases, winking at the reader and leading him through a meandering, though focused plot. To fully appreciate Budge, we must relinquish our trust to Osborne, a somewhat loopy shaman.
Budge tells the story of Louella Debra Poule, a recovering drug addict who has been paroled from prison. The reader shares her odyssey as Debra moves into the condo of her expired, estranged mother, to sort through the wreckage of her past. She begins to establish a fresh network of friends, including Aunt Inga, Meagre Deerfield (a Native Indian) Mona Rose (a neighbor), and Alcina (a tall, black transvestite). Understandably, Louella fears backsliding or an unwanted visit from past gangster...