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March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

by Michael Nesmith

While his former Monkees band-mates still work the golden-oldies circuit, Mike Nesmith has been the only member of the Prefab Four to carve out a notable post-Monkee identity, as a popular songwriter, film producer (Repo Man) and Grammy-winning rock-video pioneer. Alas, as a debut novelist, Nesmith trips up.

His plot centers on a musician named Nez who sets out on a quest to confirm the existence of a legendary New Mexican character named Neftoon Zamora, said to be “part Zuni, part Martian, and part Delta blues player.” Unfortunately, Nesmith suffers from genre confusion: The story veers wildly from science fiction to spy thriller to mythic romance. And apart from an ace vocabulary—the Monkees never played around with words like susurrus and prodrome—and some dazzling Joycean flashbacks to Nez’s teen years in Texas, Nesmith’s prose is dull, dull, dull. With such shaky control of his material, he doesn’t allow readers to follow one of Neftoon Zamora’s own maxims: “You got to trust the pilot when you get on the plane.” (St. Martin’s, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Mythological mumbo jumbo

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