Serpent Girl: A Novel

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Mar 1, 2005 - Fiction - 208 pages
2 Reviews
“The guys who were supposed to be my crew, my pals, my posse, had left me for dead, after I had gone above and beyond for them, after I had sussed out the perfect score, after I had done my homework, after I had overcome their stupidity, after I had sacrificed my near-virginity by having sex with the limbless lady.”

When he wakes up naked by the side of the highway in the middle of the desert, twenty-two-year-old Bailey Quinn is only sure of a few things: He’s in a world of testicle pain. He’s tripping out of his head on peyote. And someone seems to have made a half-assed attempt at slashing his throat. He can’t for the life of him remember what happened. And then it all comes back: His boys screwed him over.

Bailey, college dropout and carny, was working props and rigging for a touring tent circus and freak show. The Freaks were the nastiest, most tweaked-out group of misfits Bailey had ever come across. But the Freaks were doing some shady bookkeeping in addition to a boatload of veterinary Quaalude and crystal meth. So to get the inside dope on the circus payroll, Bailey took up with Eelie, the Serpent Girl, and began an unexpectedly erotic and dangerous odyssey.

As Bailey hits the road to track down his “friends” and get his loot back, a black-edged, hilarious caper unfolds. From Tank Deerflower, the drug-dealing rodeo rider, and Arnold, the fire-eater with a temper as black as his charred throat, to Sissy, the beautiful ex-junkie/whore who steals Bailey’s heart, strange characters and stranger events converge in this fast, gritty, and unforgettable novel. Crafted with artistry and deftness, Serpent Girl is a voyage into the darkest depths of carny life–and, remarkably, a tender love story to boot.

From the Hardcover edition.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

"She was Frigidaire cool, and I wanted her bad." The Postman Always Rings Twice? Double Indemnity? No, Carnahan, a James M. Cain knockoff who knows the female of the species to be very dangerous.Cain ... Read full review

Review: Serpent Girl: A Novel

User Review  - dana - Goodreads

I picked this up on the behalf of the author's best friend who lived down the beach from me. The depiction of the life is captivating, even from someone who has lived a parallel existance but in the ... Read full review

Selected pages


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18

Section 9
Section 10
Section 19

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About the author (2005)

MATTHEW CARNAHAN has had seventy-seven jobs, from deckhand to circus worker. He studied at New York University and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. After working as a playwright and director in New York, Carnahan received the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project fellowship from Steven Spielberg. His feature directorial debut, Black Circle Boys premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, as did his film Mailman. He also directed Rudyland, the award-winning documentary about former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Carnahan is currently working on a new novel. He lives in Southern California and New York City with his girlfriend, Helen; son, Emmett; and daughter, Måkena lei.

From the Hardcover edition.

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