Happy Talk imagines a star-crossed love affair in the Haiti of 1955 under the auspices of a U.S. Government plot to re-create Haiti as the next Hawaii. Gun-slinging American student nurses and boozy-NYC-playwrights-turned-educational-filmmakers can't wait to get off the Magic Island, while their directive to create a film short promoting tourism turns into a fiasco. All the while, voodoo is in the air, manifested as ghostly drumming in the distance.
Front and center are Culprit Clutch, hero of anti-heroes, who appears mostly through rumor and innuendo, and whose intrepid adventures lead him to strange encounters with people not acting like themselves and Josie, his ghostly paramour with a morphine habit and who may or may not have voodoo spirits flowing through her.
The cast of characters includes a Scandinavian zombie, an ancient Egyptian phantom, a power-mad doctor channeling Baron Samedi and bent on Culprit's destruction, and Culprit's black sidekick who sees through it all (including his role as sidekick). The novel’s cascading epilogues include a legendary car race down the length of Mexico; street theatre in Golden Gate park, circa 1968; a Skylab mutiny; origins of the musical comedy Godspell; and cameos by the Nation of Islam and early followers of Jim Jones.
Written in the style of a 60s-era post-modern novel and driven by its Catch-22 style dialogue and Rice Crispies atmosphere, Happy Talk is a novel as picaresque as it is picturesque, knotty as it is naughty, scathing in its satire while loving at its core, lyrical, hallucinatory, and hilarious.
Happy Talk was featured in eBookNewser's Digital Writer Spotlight in May 2011: http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/richard-melo-digital-writer-spotlight_b10470