Sam McPheeter’s debut novel, The Loom of Ruin, is the angry middle child of Don Delilo’s White Noise and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. The novel is set in modern day Los Angeles, a city of “cloudless skies and endless congestion,” and revolves around Trang Yang, a raging Hmong immigrant who owns nine Chevron stations in and around downtown. Of the dozen or so primary characters, from a washed-up child star to President Obama to a Hungarian private investigator, all of them have their lives ruined by the machete-wielding tornado that is Yang.
McPheeter’s likable characters are few and far between and much of the mystery that starts the book still lingers by the end. His distaste for certain parts and people of Los Angeles is evident on every page. Not that he is wrong to feel that way but every character in the book just seems like another person to decapitate or embarrass. Between countless acts of physical violence delivered by Trang, the city is repeatedly subjected to explosions and car crashes that serve as strange little apocalyptic fantasies for McPheeter’s adopted home town.
McPheeters’ prose is concise and 109 chapters spread over 250-something pages makes the plot fly by and his hand-drawn cover is especially engaging, in a smoldering rubble kind of way. But considering their prominence in the plot, I’d be curious to read the Chevron Corporation’s opinion of this book.
Loom of Ruin @ LA Record