I became intrigued when I heard that an old acquaintance of mine, Gibby Haynes, had written his first novel. Afterall, I witnessed the beginnings of Gibby’s publishing career with his self-made ‘zine entitled Strange VD which he produced on the photocopy machine at the office where we both once worked. Following this unusual ode to a sexually transmitted disease, he soon left that job and went on to form the notoriously legendary band, the Butthole Surfers.
So, when I saw that his debut work of fiction, Me and Mr. Cigar, was geared toward the Young Adult market, my first reaction was how Haynes could restrain himself to make a work of fiction suitable for this genre. In the biomaterial accompanying the book, he opened up about how he enjoyed his Dad (a Texas children’s TV star who called himself “Mr. Peppermint”) reading to him when he was young. Maybe this childhood sentimentality plus becoming a father himself, caused Haynes to find his more “sensitive” side?
But stop right there! This book about a boy and his dog ain’t no Timmy and Lassie. That same wild Haynes imagination that gave us Surfer songs like “Dracula from Houston,” is back in full force. Aside from some harmless and rather glib drug references, Haynes keeps things quite safe avoiding any of the bizarre behavior his band was noted for. But on the other hand, Sci-Fi and Surfer fans need not feel that this tale will be too juvenile for their interests.
The novel begins with an extended prologue that leaves you with a rather perplexing unresolved mystery. The story then meanders through a highly imaginative clever tale of espionage involving some remarkable world-changing scientific inventions. (Elon Musk should take notice!) The twists and turns of the storyline make you wonder how the pieces will ever fit together.
Both the lead character and his sidekick (a friend, not the dog) bear facets of the author’s personality. While the protagonist exhibits common-sense and reason (Gibson the academic high achiever), his foil in the latter is more akin to his wilder side (Gibby the eccentric rock star). Hayne’s love for his home state is also prevalent with many references to things Texan made throughout the book.
Me and Mr. Cigar is a fascinating read, and as the pace picks up, the adventure to unravel this mystery makes it a real page turner you won’t be able to put down. And without giving anything away, Haynes caps it off with an unpredictable surprise ending.
Gibby also uses the literary device of short compact chapters of no more than a page or two. While they make reading in short spurts more convenient, this technique also provided the author with the need to create 90 clever chapter titles. Haynes fans will also love the fact that the book features some sketches by the author.
Gibby Haynes has such a strong identity, that it’s impossible to separate him from the Butthole Surfers. But Me and Mr. Cigar is a book that will appeal to both the fans of Haynes’ eclectic music and showmanship as well as those who may have feared some of the band’s strange antics. Me and Mr. Cigar is a wild and enjoyable journey that is available to purchase now at the usual outlets. I look forward to more books from Gibby Haynes.