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Hugh Janus

447 pages7 hours


HUGH JANUS is an obscure stand-up comedian working in a dump of a nightclub like an old time Humphrey Bogart movie set. His story is a non-conformist comedy of erotic self-indulgence and violently interwoven relationships around him. Humiliated by his wife and bullied by his boss, Janus’s scandalous performances win him success and infamy in a blaze of betrayal, drugs, sex, violence and murder.

Finding a gun against his head is nothing new to Janus. His life is an erratic and erotic search for artistic meaning and personal truth. Janus weaves a dangerous self-indulgent path through violent turmoil often of his own making. His domineering wife Deanna resents his dependence on her money and he resents her. She is a mysteriously powerful woman with international connections. She debases him and she punishes him when necessary; and she saves him from trouble when she must. He is a pain in the arse, but he’s her pain in the arse. She tries to force Janus to give up show biz and get a normal job. In despair Deanna seeks satisfaction in an affair with her psychiatrist while Janus carries on a number of secret liaisons with the nightclub’s staff, his mistress and prostitutes. It seems a perfect marriage in some ways.

Janus must conceal his relationship with Daisy the wild-eyed exotic dancer in the nightclub. Daisy is the lifelong friend of Deanna, and the mistress of the jealous nightclub boss. Eighty year-old Henri Kaye is a sadistic and conniving old-school gangster, troubled by sexual dysfunction and ill-health. Boss Henri plagues Janus with comedy advice and wartime nostalgia from the holocaust.

The turbulent tale of Janus is a comedy in honor of the soul's need to belong and the ego’s craving for attention, with ambiguities of love and lust - the simple gravity that holds people together as they fall apart.

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