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This is David Gullen’s first published novel, released by Monico, an imprint of Clarion Publishing.

As his debut novel, Shopocalypse tells the story of Novik and Josie. Novik having just got out of prison wants to get back to life with the wife he has missed for two years, but a chance meeting with the “Old-Fashioned Boys,” yields results: a sentient Cadillac the “Old-Fashioned Boys,” used to own along with what Novik calls “a fuck-ton of cash.” The problem is that the cash is contaminated with LSD, mammalian Oxytocin, trans-PTTH and brominated ketamine. And if that wasn’t enough, the Cadillac who calls himself MR Car can talk.

Shopocalypse is like no road novel ever written before. It takes two people who aren’t prepared for the life they are catapulted into after meeting the “Old-Fashioned Boys,” but stealing their car will only make them targets if they ever catch them. Josie’s first instinct is to burn the cash, though if they spend it, like the new government wants people to do, it isn’t classed as a crime. Gullen weaves this novel like a modern-day Kerouac made for a new acid-trip generation. Shopocalypse raises its middle finger to the corrupted government and puts two members of the ordinary public in the limelight, lets them come upon an unbelievable amount of cash and lets them spend it. The story is deliberately outrageous with its trillionaires, evil woman president, popular rock music and soul searching. There is dark humour in abundance, setting the theme of unabashed excess, parodying the U.S. money-making seminars and get-rich-quick schemes. Not to be missed are a range of brand names lampooned to great effect in the malls that our hero and heroine plunder with ease.

Novik and Josie are different in their personalities as one is an idealist and drifter while the other is a realist who gets caught up in a moment of madness that she does not regret any more than Mr Car regrets letting them ride in him. Novik feels untethered after being in jail, and without any plans for the future delves into a world of spending with reckless abandon. Gullen reaches out to everyone who has lived in the eighties when greed was considered good and excess a normal part of everyday life. Novik and Josie might not be role models for a new generation, but they are the perfect couple in a dystopian future universe that is destined to crumble under the weight of its own greed. The characters of Novik, Josie and Benny, however, are the best chosen protagonists for a road novel that is impressive and well worth the read.

Shopocalypse by David Gullen (2013)
Published by: Monico (Imprint of Clarion Publishing)
Review by Sandra Scholes

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