...Rickey wondered if he would ever do anything as well a Bobby Hebert had thrown that eighty-four-yard bomb. He must have been put on earth to do something; certainly he had never felt purposeless. But what was his purpose? What talent lay buried in him that he didn't know about yet? Because he was not a reflective person by nature, this line of thought made him vaguely uneasy. He wished the talent would hurry up and show itself. (p. 192)
Second Line comprises two short novels by Poppy Z. Brite: The Value of X (reviewed here) which I love, and D*U*C*K, which I'd thought was only available as a pricy small-press limited edition. I really bought Second Line for the latter (though it's handy to have a copy of The Value of X to hand: mine's in the Kent annex of my bookshelf ...)
D*U*C*K is set in an alternate New Orleans which wasn't ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent failures of government. (There's a mention, early in the book, of a category 5 storm veering off towards Florida.) Rickey and G-man are in their early thirties, successful but starting to slow down. Rickey, in particular, is gnawed by a kind of existential angst: what now? Then they get a commission to cook duck for Ducks Unlimited -- special guest former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, who inspired 13-year-old Rickey to discover his own purpose.
Turns out there are a lot of interesting ways to cook duck.
It's a slight story in terms of actual events, but there's definite emotional resolution -- plus the pleasure of revisiting likeable and distinctive characters. Brite takes a swipe or two at online food-snobs: there are some hilarious scenes, in and out of the kitchen.
D*U*C*K didn't charm me quite as much as my reread of The Value of X, but it's good to have more of this particular story.