My long-awaited copy of "The Jugheads" will arrive from Amazon any day now, but -- through a friend of the author -- I had a chance to read the original manuscript a while back. I've been thinking about it ever since, and am really glad this book has finally been published. It tells the thoroughly All-American, yet darkly subversive tale of a young man growing up in Texas, that most iconically American state. There, J.R. Helton rips the smiling Happy Face off the suburban American Dream to reveal the reality therein, and it's not a pretty sight. It is a very entertaining drama, however, in which Helton spares no one -- least of all himself -- in telling the ugly truth behind so many of the self-serving, onanistic cultural myths that shimmer like quicksilver on the road ahead.
It's a road we all drive, and as society we've put the pedal to the metal trying to catch up with those mirages, but it can't be done -- they dance forever beyond our grasp on the Highway to Nowhere. We do learn a thing or two on that futile quest, though, even if those hard lessons serve only to underline just what fools we've been.
"The Jugheads" is one harrowing, painful, but darkly funny ride, and well worth your time. Take a deep breath before you read it… but read it.