Cosmic Banditos

Naturally, the book jacket copy caught my eye:

Mr. Quark is a down-on-his luck pot-smuggler hiding out in the mountains of Colombia with his dog, High Pockets, and a small band of banditos led by the irascible Jose. Only months before, these three and their fearless associates were rolling in millions in cash and high-grade marijuana, eluding prosecution on “ridiculously false” drug and terrorism charges. But times have quickly grown lean, and to liven up their exile, Jose decides to mug a family of American tourists.

Among the spoils are physics texts, which launch Mr. Quark on a side-splitting, boisterous adventure north to California, where he confronts the owner of the books with his own theories on relativity, the nature of the universe, and looking for the meaning of life in all the wrong places…

Cosmic Banditos is a goofy book about heavy topics. Or maybe it’s a heavy book with a goofy narrator. The key to understanding this book, as the narrator tells you, is not to take it too seriously. In fact, it’s probably not even worth summarizing the story in any more detail than what you find in the book jacket; the story is actually pretty simple, but it is by no means the point of the book.

Cosmic Banditos is a weird novel in the best possible sense because it’s the kind of weird that unifies kindred oddballs. Without getting too technical, it’s the kind of story that will tickle your funny bone, speak to your soul, and expand your mind, but only if you happen to be on the same cosmic wavelength as the author. In that sense, Cosmic Banditos is a litmus test, not so much for people to avoid, but as good a sign as any for the kind of people who are worth discussing the meaning of life with over a strong drink or sweet sativa. Will this book explain the meaning of life? Of course not. But it just might illustrate the folly of such an endeavor, even if “life” might just be the probable result of a sub-atomic ballet.

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