Fishing In Valhalla by Rodney Lynch is a comic novel about a nowhere town in Minnesota, centering on Reno who works for a former male pornstar, Ramrod McKenzie. Over a hot, 90’s summer, the convenience store run by Ramrod is robbed, throwing Reno’s life into disarray. An arresting and very funny book peopled by a list of eccentric, but believable, characters, Fishing in Valhalla is an entertaining and surprisingly touching novel about striving to be the best you can be when your world is falling apart.
The novel is a fun and quick read that will have you smiling frequently, though not necessarily laughing out loud. The success in the novel is its humor is understated – more black comedy than slapstick – which allows the characters to keep their core humanity. Through Lynch’s incisive observations, you’ll feel for these characters, even when they’re at their most eccentric. These characters are at once absurdist and eminently recognizable, and it’s this juxtaposition where the book really sets itself apart.
One issue with the book is the formatting is off – there’s no consistency with paragraph indents. There are stray grammatical issues as well. These issues aren’t a dealbreaker by any means, but they do affect the flow of the read.
Overall, Fishing In Valhalla is a spirited and funny read. It may not reach the level of absolute hilarity and incisive commentary as, say, Confederacy of Dunces, but a similar spirit is at play, and it occasionally does meet those heights in its mixture of comedy and pathos.