Review: Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra

The Blurb

“Long after the last drink is poured and the final gunshot fired, Cheryl Della Pietra’s novel inspired by her time as Hunter S. Thompson’s assistant will linger in your mind. This debut novel is raucous, page-turning, head-spinning, and side-splitting as it depicts a boss and mentor who is both devil and angel, and a young heroine who finds herself tested in the chaos that surrounds him. An intense story, Della Pietra’s tale about writing, firearms, psychotropics, and the pros and cons of hot tubs will suck you in and take you on ride. Gonzo Girl is a ticket you want to buy.” —Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black

Alley Russo is a recent college grad desperately trying to make it in the gruelling world of New York publishing, but like so many who have come before her, she has no connections and has settled for an unpaid magazine internship while slinging drinks on Bleecker Street just to make ends meet. That’s when she hears the infamous Walker Reade is looking for an assistant to replace the eight others who have recently quit. Hungry for a chance to get her manuscript onto the desk of an experienced editor, Alley jumps at the opportunity to help Reade finish his latest novel.

After surviving an absurd three-day “trial period” involving a .44 magnum, purple-pyramid acid, violent verbal outbursts, brushes with fame and the law, a bevy of peacocks, and a whole lot of cocaine, Alley is invited to stay at the compound where Reade works. For months Alley attempts to coax the novel out of Walker page-by-page, all while battling his endless procrastination, vampiric schedule, Herculean substance abuse, mounting debt, and casual gunplay. But as the job begins to take a toll on her psyche, Alley realizes she’s alone in the Colorado Rockies at the mercy of a drug-addicted literary icon who may never produce another novel—and her fate may already be sealed.

A smart, rollicking ride told with heart, Gonzo Girl is a loving fictional portrait of a larger-than-life literary icon.

The Review

Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra is an interesting novel that is similar in style to the mad cap literary greats such as Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut and Lester Bangs; poetically verbose and a little bit screwball. The basic premise is that wannabe writer Alley Russo has landed her dream job working with respected and revered writer Walker Reade. However, her respect slowly dwindles like sand through an hourglass as she realises that he is washed up and is writing sheer nonsense. One bad decision to alter his work leads to a world of worry.

Alley is quickly ensconced in a world so far away from her comfortable life as the precious only daughter of a close knit Italian family, she is rapidly surrounded by people living a debauched lifestyle; rather than shy away from this Valhalla of decadence Ally joins in with gusto.

Gonzo Girl is a great read and is a nosy peak into such a warped way of life. Whilst I did go through the book rather rapidly I did feel that some of Walker Reade’s crazier moments could have been edited out and it would have still had the same impact. What is great about Gonzo Girl is the astounding voice of Cheryl Della Pietra and how she has managed to create such an evocative image of time and place.

Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra is available now.

Follow Cheryl Della Pietra (@CherylPietra) on Twitter.

Gonzo Girl

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