Demigods on Speedway
In the tradition of Joyce’s Dubliners, Demigods on Speedway is a portrait of a city that reflects the recession-era Southwest. Inspired by tales from Greek mythology, these gritty heroes and heroines struggle to find their place in the cosmos. Each of these linked stories develops the extremes of the modern psyche: an executive struggling to understand his wife’s illness even as he compulsively cheats on her, a teenage runaway whose attraction to her “twin” is bound to fail, an overweight boy vicariously experiencing true love through the tales of his trainer, a car-wash attendant with outsized dreams of Hollywood.
Characters with mythical-sounding names like Dagfinn and Zero plot their courses through a sky riddled with flawed constellations. Sheehan’s edgy language aptly reveals her characters as they lurch toward the next day’s irreverent beginning. As the characters’ lives overlap, their stories carry mythology out of the past and into a very modern dilemma: the cumulative sense that here is a city with its own demigods, individuals struggling to survive under siege while passionately seeking to make something immortal in their lives.
“Aurelie Sheehan’s demigods, like their ancient counterparts, are tragic and comic and utterly, movingly human. And Tucson, her twenty-first-century Olympus, in all its sizzle and steaminess, comes gorgeously to life. I couldn’t put this book down and I didn’t want it to end. So I read it again and loved it even more.”—Karen Brennan, author of The Garden in Which I Walk
“Aurelie Sheehan is a master of illusion, but she’s not dealing in magic—she’s describing and defining the illusions of identity we conjure up daily in the twenty-first century. She’s a great portraitist, with a sharp eye for the absurdities of modern-day habits. In the seedy, sordid dustiness of a desert town, these characters wrangle with their tender ambitions, lining up their ideals with their realities. For all their bad habits and dead ends, these characters are endearing—they’re open to love, to surprise, to stark realizations. And all along, Sheehan’s writing is sensuous, sensory, bringing these worlds, our world, to vivid life.”—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola: A Novel