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In Excoriating the Unicorn, American youth test early adult independence from conventionality through vandalism, partying, skipping school, attending concerts and festivals, having sex, hanging-out, and working entry-level jobs, all while high on one or more dangerous, mind-altering drugs and alcohol.
These kids are now young adults, grown-up and ready to break-out in a run from the artificial barriers that limit many people to monotony. Escape from reality is indulgently sought in the most potent of hallucinogenic substances, and tranquility realized by floating among the clouds of drug-induced pleasure dreams.
Excoriating the Unicorn is a metaphor for the eroding belief in the well-rooted fantasy of the American Dream – the ideal that opportunity, prosperity, success, and upward mobility await those committed to hard work, education, and obedience. Written knowledgeably from the perspective of inquisitive yet disenchanted youth, this first novel by emerging author Doyle pokes painfully at the fable with a needle-sharp pessimism born from bitter evidence of a distorted society.
Doyle peels back the mythical skin by presenting antagonist and heretic Duke Hudson, a powerful male trouble-maker, slacker, haranguer, wanderer, juicer, and an explosively violent figure formed of a schizophrenic mind who threatens, intimidates, and demands resilience to physical and mental pain.
Hudson dictates, invoking severe teaching moments to combat the opposing forces of a submissive, textbook society. He is the evil twin of parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, and community officials tasked with obeying and enforcing the rules. He rages and screams for unbridled latitude, alternately delirious and sentient in intrusive interaction with the novel’s narrator, a young man whose descendent mental tailspin is both fueled and eased by substantial drug and alcohol consumption.
The author introduces an ever-expanding troop of vulnerable substance abusers from a vast quarry of untamed yearlings poised for chemical slaughter. In a test of fearlessness, the innocent, athletic, gifted, and beautiful are led down self-elected roads to where life is promisingly free of rules, obligations, and unfulfilling work; and where the costs of excessive consumption of hard liquor, oxycodone, hashish, cocaine, heroin, morphine and other stimulants are steep: addiction, overdose, sickness, parasitic behavior, homelessness, destitution.
Novelist Doyle connects the extreme highs and lows of emotional aimlessness encountered during the prime years of lives lost to false paradise. His well-tuned capacity for rhythmic prose elevates the sensitive portrait of youthful fascination captured in oscillating episodes of genuine love and camaraderie and callous madness.