Karma Would be a Bitch if She Existed: Cassie-la Wins Big with “Lucky Bastard” by S.G. Browne

Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Genre: Fiction, luck, humor, fantasy, so that’s how Lindsay Lohan’s career tanked
Rating: 4.58 out of 5 stars

Summary: Nick Monday is a Private Investigator who has the ability to romantically attract baristas and has a more useful talent of extracting luck from others. In the course of 24 hours, Nick’s bland existence spirals into insanity as he’s caught up with the mob, the government, and two women both claiming to be the same person. From nudity to jokes at the expense of John Travolta, stealing luck has never been more hilarious.

I had enough good fortune (pun intended) on my side to snag a copy of S.G. Browne’s ARC Lucky Bastard, due for release on April 17, 2012. You can pre-order HERE, I highly recommend you do. Thanks again Scott!!! This is Browne’s third novel, behind Breathers (a zombie romance) and Fated (which follows Fabio the physical embodiment of Fate). This tale is centered around Nick Monday, a luck poacher who has the ability to steal other people’s luck. This author is so full of amazingly inventive ideas it’s mind boggling!

As a lifetime stealer of luck (luck poaching is an inherited skill), Nick is forced to move from place to place and rebuild his life on a regular basis. In order to cover up his abilities, he has a part time job as a private investigator. Generally, his life isn’t very glamorous, even for a PI with extrasensory abilities. His cases often involve infidelity and insurance claims. Very occasionally he will answer a call to find and retrieve luck, coded as if one were placing an order for Chinese food. Unfortunately luck doesn’t come with a fortune cookie, although it would be a little tongue-in-cheek if it did.

Despite these challenges, including an estranged sister who is living a life devoid of luck, Nick’s narrative is fun and engaging. He has a particularly quirky habit of referring to other people as the celebrities they look like, interacting with them as if they were actually that celebrity. Most people have identifiers for others, it’s another thing entirely to then treat that person in the manner befitting of that memory trick. It’s also particularly demeaning to the government agents whose names Nick refuses to learn. Thankfully it’s hilarious to us.

One thing this novel has in spades is a wealth of information. From the first to the last page, S.G. Browne takes his time explaining exactly how luck poaching works, along with the nature of luck itself- you’re either born with it or you’re not. There is high grade luck, which can result in a person winning the lottery, gaining fame, or escaping death and medium grade luck that causes happy marriages, and being in the right place at the right time. Finally, there is low grade luck which can result in such events as winning game shows or scoring a hole-in-one. Luck is stolen through touch and ejected through a complicated system of bodily fluid exchange. Read the book for more on that, because I am not comfortable enough to get into it. I’m sure your mind is racing with possibilities.

Throughout the course of the novel, luck is treated like a drug. It is sold in secret, collected in secret, and it has addictive qualities. Bad luck is akin to a hard drug, one so bad that once it’s in your system there’s no getting rid of it. As luck dealer, Nick is unable to form relationships or stay in one place for very long. Even his sister quits luck cold turkey. It’s an intriguing metaphor, one which Browne does an impressive job of portraying throughout the narrative. “Your luck is my drug” could definitely catch on as a pop-song.

So how does a luck poacher know who to take luck from? Celebrities and those in the public eye are often easy marks, giving themselves away with their success. Amelia Earhart, Houdini, James Dean, Buddy Holly, John Belushi, Marilyn Monroe, and the Captain of the Titanic were all targets of luck poachers (or rumored to be according to Nick). As a result of their luck being drained, they met tragic ends. The loss of luck can also result in the end of a career, not necessarily in death but in falling out of the public eye. See Charlie Sheen or Tiger Woods. Major shifts in luck are also deemed to have disastrous consequences, which would explain a Stock Market crash or the French Revolution. Or today’s failing economy to bring it to the 21st century.

To strengthen these examples of good luck (see the aforementioned paragraph about celebrities), Browne brings in real life examples of incredible good fortune. There is Vesna Vulovic, a stewardess who survived a 33,000 foot plane crash, Betty Lou Oliver a worker at the Empire State Building who lived through a plane crashing into the building and later a 75 story drop in an elevator when its cable snapped, and Joseph Samuel who was granted a pardon from his death sentence after two ropes snapped and a noose fell off his neck during his execution. I have a giant weakness for real life events being explained in fantastical ways and luck being used is no exception. Generally it’s celebrities being vampires (especially Lord Byron- there are 3 Lord Byron vampire books that I know of) but this was a nice change of pace. Although… I honestly wouldn’t mind if every book had Lord Byron in it.

Browne is particularly adept at humor, which also drove his other two novels. I have included the top four quotes that I jotted down for your amusement. I just can’t get enough of Nick Monday’s inner dialogue, his wit is so sharp.

  • “Just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean someone hasn’t tried it. Look at the Edsel. Or Battlefield Earth.” (ZING ON YOU JOHN TRAVOLTA!)
  • “I’m not expecting company. Or a client. Or the Spanish Inquisition.”
  • “… About as subtle as a money shot in a bad porno.”
  • “I’m Normandy. I’m Palestine. I’m a rectum at a proctologist convention.”

The fourth quote gave me the worst déjà vu. Perhaps it’s the narrative style or the three short fragmented sentences, but this quote seems so familiar to me in terms of structure. Not content, I don’t read proctologist jokes often. Maybe I’m just going insane. Anyone else heard something similar to this? Or do I have a brain tumor?

THE GOOD:
-Hysterical, fun, WILD ROMP (ignore this cliche phrase)
-Nick Monday really grows on you, despite his seemingly sleazy exterior
-Historical tidbits brought in are informative and interesting
-Idea of luck and how it functions is well constructed and believable

THE BAD:
-I am completely inept at following action, and there is a lot of action (this is a personal problem)

For once, it seems like I had some very low grade luck coursing through my system when this ARC arrived on my door step. Just don’t come trying to snap up it up. You won’t get much money for it anyway you damn poachers. Besides, you don’t need a four leaf clover to get your hands on a copy in April.

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3 thoughts on “Karma Would be a Bitch if She Existed: Cassie-la Wins Big with “Lucky Bastard” by S.G. Browne

  1. […] “Softland” continues with the trend of short stories that later became books this tale becoming Browne’s newest full length novel, Lucky Bastard OUT THIS TUESDAY! The short follows a family of luck poachers who steal luck from others. Luck comes in different forms, good and bad, soft to hard, and having the ability to take luck from someone is a hereditary trait. While stealing luck pays well, it doesn’t necessarily give you the best social life, forcing the poacher to move from place to place to not draw attention to oneself. You can read my full review of the ARC I received HERE. […]

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