Pulp: Victor Gischler

Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse (Touchstone)

After Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the city of New Orleans, some of the first businesses back up and running were strip clubs. I suspect this was the spark that caused Baton Rouge novelist Victor Gischler to create Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse.

Go-Go Girls is half-adventure novel, half-social satire about an insurance salesman named Mortimer Tate who sees the writing on the wall and disappears into the Tennessee mountain wilderness to wait out whatever's coming down the road. Nine years later he gets restless and emerges to see what's left of the crippled vestiges of humanity. He finds the leftover dregs either trying to survive or trying to rebuild civilization, with the shining example of the latter being a chain of all-purpose strip clubs/mercantiles called Joey Armageddon's Sassy A-Go-Go. Mortimer collects a series of friends and begins a trek to Atlanta for the wife he abandoned when he went off the grid. It's The Road as written by a porn-addicted and booze-addled Cormac McCarthy.

Gischler has previously written four crime novels (the best being the academia send-up The Pistol Poets) and just published a Punisher story through Marvel Comics, and finds a perfect outlet for his muscular, gonzo prose in his post-apocalyptic setting, while also creating a small corner of a whole new reverse-engineered world in which to play. I don't want to spoil some of the weird surprises, but just as in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Chattanooga's Lookout Mountain is the setting for a battle with the future of mankind in the balance. Except this time there are more half-naked women and guys on bicycles. At a list price of $14, it's cheaper than a lap dance and will last significantly longer. Depending on your stripper of choice, it's also funnier.