The Asphalt Warrior
by Gary Reilly
Running Meter Press, Denver, 200 pages
What if the gloomy 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer drove a cab in Denver? What if Schopenhauer, crossed with Maynard G Krebs (you do know who that is, don’t you?) by way of comedian Steven Wright, chased fares in the Mile High City?
You’d have this book. And you need to read it.
The Asphalt Warrior, first in a promised string of taxi tales of urban adventure on the high (and low) streets of Denver, is a howlingly funny, literary cab-with-no-brakes ride through one Boomer’s late 20th century angst—that of Brendan Murphy, otherwise known as Murph. I mean, any cabbie that quotes Nabokov’s Lolita, (“That Nabokov. What a Russian.” Ref: page 155), uses a copy of Finnegans Wake as a piggy bank, ruminates on English Romanticism (1789 – 1815), running everything through a screwy Sixties TV sitcom filter debating its intellectual value, well, I’ll ride with that guy.
That Murph. What a cabbie.
May I quote the wit and wisdom of Murph? Sorry, not enough room here. My copy is dog-eared, scribbled and beat up. I need to have a set of those metal bookmarkers. I’ll set it up showing Murph’s Greatest Hits. I tell ya, reading this book will make you feel like three hundred bucks. (Ref: page 72) Don’t worry, the Cab Driver’s Prayer applies: “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.” (Ref: page 26 et al)
Cue Tommy James and the Shondells’ Hanky Panky. (Ref: every time Murph turns on the radio)
But at heart, it’s a big-hearted personal story, with Murph as stand-in for author Gary Reilly and what he must’ve thought was a failed career, with the both author and character struggling to come up with the courage to face that typewriter and the blank page yet again. To write. Thankfully, he did. And now we’ve got it. And we laugh.
That Reilly. What a writer.