Reading "Nog" is a little like living in the mind of Zen monk strung out on drugs. Whatever, whoever Nog is, I'm not sure that he's human. If a human being is one step removed from reality-having to interpret the physical world through the senses and through the mind-then Nog is about four or five steps removed. Impressions from the world come in, bounce around inside his cavernous mind and finally end up distorted beyond recognition, which is where the fun begins.
Nog strives to maintain a maximum of three memories, considers facts subjective, and will not, under any circumstances, give out information. But don't get him started on the octopus...
"He kept complaining about a yellow light that had been streaming out of his chest from a spot the size of a half dollar. We drank and talked about the spot and the small burning sensation it gave him early in the morning and about his octopus. He had become disillusioned about traveling with the octopus and had begun having aggressive dreams about it. He wanted to sell it."
Rudolph Wurlitzer's style is reminiscent of other writers of the era-Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, et cetera-and the novel's genre is the good old American "yarn." As with Mark Twain, Wurlitzer just wants to keep pulling your leg as long as you'll let him. This sort of thing is difficult to sustain outside the confines of a short story, however-and, like some of Twain's novels, "Nog" does lose a bit of its steam somewhere. The opening of the book is absolutely priceless, but soon Wurlitzer must do something to up the ante in his narrative con game. This, unfortunately, means falling back on an listless plot to move Nog around and add fodder to that bizarre imagination. If "Nog" never quite surpasses the flair of the opening chapters, Wurlitzer has still achieved a deliciously eccentric style and created one truly unforgettable character.