Peter John McLean

Live Bait by Cameron Pierce (Reviews)

Just finished Live Bait by Cameron Pierce (Lazy Fascist). Well, a couple days ago.

Live Bait is a short book with a sharp twist in it. A little too sharp, maybe. The first half of the book follows a sort-of drug dealer (Gordon West) and a washed up semi-mental transient who is in love with his Land Rover (Bob). It’s creative. It’s funny. And, following in the tradition of Cameron Pierce novels, it’s a little ridiculous.

The story centers on the two above characters, who are both dedicated fishers, working the Esplanade in Portland. Shit gets tough when they run into a twenty-foot long Lovecraftian monster fish and decide it’s their destiny to catch the fucker.

This, alone, would have made a great story. But it evolves from the monster-hunting escapade that it is to become a story about Bob and the cult he miraculously composes out of a lifetime of friendships. Gordon West is the newest of Bob’s hopelessly infatuated pals.

Did I mention that the world is ending as a result of the Lovecraftian monster fish that are taking over Portland? Shit gets real and the National Guard shows up and then says, “Fuck it,” and rolls out, leaving the city to fend for itself.

Live Bait is pretty fucking crazy. Is it Ass Goblins of Auschwitz crazy? Nah. But that’s one of my favorite things about this book. Cameron’s insanity is a little tempered. The unbelievable elements of the story are still there, but not at bizarro levels.

Early in the story Gordon and Bob spend time together. Drink beer. Gather fishing supplies and crash in Gordon’s apartment. Bob, who is in love with a Land Rover, imparts some wisdom on relationships early on, especially on the value of limiting it to automobiles. And this theme, the complexity of loving things that cannot love you back, is effectively reinforced later in the story when Gordon is struggling with being a mere tool for the Cult of Bob (and his fucking Land Rover, Melinda).

When it comes to fishing, Cameron Pierce knows his shit. When it comes to Lovecraftian horror, Cameron Pierce knows his shit too. Live Bait is a fun hybrid of these two things, with enough realism to the fishing efforts of Gordon and Bob to effectively place a willing reader in the madness of the situation. Highly recommended.