Author: Yancey Williams

ISBN: 978-0-9860316-2-5

Yancey Williams's latest tome, Rome and Joliet: A Chapterless Continuum consists of a continuous series of scenes that are blended together in a way that it is very difficult to tell where one ends and the next begins. It is also chapterless and, in conventional terms, plotless, forming a continuum as indicated in the subtitle.

Williams' principal character, CIA vice director Satchel Xavier Gilespie (spelled with one L and not two as we are continuously reminded) is described by his ex-wife Brenda Gilespie as a “two timing, adulterous, lying, cheating, filthy cockroach of a maggot.” Gilespie, who incidentally is a Fulbright scholar, is a man in love with Kimberly Adele Montague, who is nineteen and half years his junior and is initially portrayed as a bimbo and described as being “leggy, just shy of tall, engagingly yet vacuously beautiful, still an Everyman's siren.” As it turns out, looks can be deceiving and characters are often not what they appear, which all leads to quite a surprise ending.

The opening scenes of the yarn find Xavier and his young girlfriend Kimberly in the northeast Georgia woods endeavoring to uncover a stockpile of illegal weapons that will ultimately lead to restoring Xavier's career and a life of luxury. Sadly, just as the two believed they reached the promised land and thought they discovered the hidden stash, their hopes are dashed. Instead of finding the treasure chest of contraband, they unearth an oversized envelope with “bold handwritten lettering spelling out SXG, Private & Confidential , Classified, Very Important, Top Secret, Open Upon Receipt.” To the astonishment of both Xavier and Kimberly, the letter was penned by his ex-wife Brenda who apparently was supposed to be dead and to assert its contents was far from adulatory would be quite an understatement.

After this catastrophe, Xavier finds himself embroiled in all kinds of outlandish debacles including the borrowing of hundreds of thousands of dollars from one of his ex-girlfriends, Valerie who in turn had borrowed the money from a Mafia don, Capulet Antonio Benvolio. The latter is not a “happy camper,” as his loan had not been repaid, and thus sends one of his goons to recover the money from Xavier. On another note, Xavier discovers that an Asian fellow had swindled Benvolio out of a considerable sum of money and he tries to arrange a trade with the mobster where he would be generously compensated in return for handing over the thief.

Rome & Joliet may not be everyone's cup of tea and it could prove quite a challenge in trying to understand the gist of the story as there is no attempt at a straightforward narrative or story-telling. And I will be honest with you, Williams is also fearless in pushing the envelope with his insertion of profanity and disparaging remarks concerning various ethnic groups which may turn off some readers. Nevertheless, in the end, and if you are patient, Williams succeeds in rewarding us with a farce full of hilarious takes on a variety of themes, nutty doings, and twisted turns of events where he deftly leads us through a series of cockamamie escapades of his characters. By the way, as a neat little bonus and as noted on the back cover of the book, we also have “a cast of characters learned students of fine literature will uncover once again, only this time you might not recognize them in their reissued status as they are even more memorable.”

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