‘A Candle for San Simón’ by Kelly Daniels: Accidental Comedians, Road Warriors, & Rough Magic

by Paul Wilner

Inside (almost) every “serious’’ novel, there’s some pulp fiction struggling to get out. Kelly Daniels navigates the path between the two, mostly successfully, in A Candle for San Simón (Owl Canyon Press; 276 pages). Mirroring some of the themes of Daniels’ 2013 memoir, Cloudbreak, California, an account of shaking off the legacy of his drug-dealing, surfer-bum father, the new novel is a picaresque narrative of gun-running and gang violence in Guatemala written in a deadpan noir style that sometimes recalls Charles Willeford (and Malcolm Lowry). But the repressed always returns, and a father-son conflict is once again central to this […]

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