Chas Strout has been getting his elderly uncle drunk a lot lately, considering himself in this respect an excellent primary caregiver. For the first sixteen years of his life, his uncle raised him in a single frozen moment of stopped time, hiding out from the vile bezonians. After the moment decayed and forced them back on the roller coaster, they made small disasters of their lives. Chas is now a 17-year-old religious studies dropout, and Uncle Charlie has lost the brief Internet fame he enjoyed following around a cat with his camera phone and posting every minute of its boring cat life online, having succumbed to an untreatable case of invasive fungal sinusitis. Uncle Charlie now pines for his lost fame and wanders off a lot, meaning that it's up to Chas to come up with a plan to solve their problems. While buying his uncle a bottle of cheap white wine at Safeway one Halloween, he meets a chatty middle-aged woman named Lois Hobie who somehow knows exactly what he's planning to do. To help his uncle, he has decided to adopt and run over a cat that approximately matches the cat a minor Hollywood celebrity secretly staying with a friend just up the block has recently lost. This celebrity promised Chas a large reward for the return of her cat, dead or alive. Chas reasons that although an exact living match might be hard to find, the identity of a run-over cat might be more profitably ambiguous. Lois Hobie not only knows about this shameful plan, she wants to help. Unfortunately, her help soon includes the involvement of her teenage daughter Beth Hobie of the girl-mullet, lazy eye, heavy mascara, and raccoon allure. By midnight, after encounters with the City of Davis police, a man who herds shopping carts, a family of mafia pool-installers, a troop of rogue Girl Scouts, and the owner of a shady antique store who might also be selling illegal exotics (like ferrets), Chas comes to suspect that the mother-daughter team who promised to help him doesn't really want to help him at all. In fact, they seem to have obliquely kidnapped him. Are these the vile bezonians his uncle always feared? What are vile bezonians and what do they want from him? In this, the second book of the Now is How trilogy, Chas Strout discovers his true identity, receiving a message left for him long ago by the father he never knew he had. He also learns a key fact about his true family: that even people with the best of intentions sometimes need coping mechanisms to deal with their coping mechanisms.
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November 30, 2013
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