Jesús Ángel García is the name of the main character of bad bad bad. The fun coincidence of this is, that also just so happens to be the name of the author of bad bad bad. The nerve that this humble reviewer would have to muster to make such a move is immeasurable, but after meeting García, seeing him in action, it probably wasn’t even given a second thought. That isn’t to say that he lives with a god-sized self-importance. Jesús just exudes an effortless air. Listening to him pitch his book to a ridiculously attractive woman just moments after starring down a troupe of motorcycle enthusiasts, mocking their rumbling engines with a megaphone just made sense. The pitch was half starving artist, half pick-up artist, and all smooth operator.
The Jesús Ángel García in bad bad bad, however, spends the lifetime of this book battling with identity. He’s recently been left by his ex-wife, taking their only son with her, leaving him to figure out what kind of man he wants to be while trying to legally reconnect with his boy. The book opens with a prologue of the hero driving around with a lady of the night, rolling down the streets as he tries to convince the pro to go to the beach and to a movie with him, no kink, just good times. The transaction goes poorly and so sets the tone for García’s story. He goes from being a church custodian to the webmaster of a rapidly expanding religious movement, by day. At night, he moderates an online community that is home to fetishists searching for an online haven. Somewhere in between all of that, he does everything that he can to serve others, bending extremes that find him more trouble than he’s anticipating.
The crux of the story is García’s blindness to the motivations of the rest of the characters in the story. He is far from pure of heart, but falls victim to the desires and schemes of other people with the naivety of a child. Whether he’s attempting to please the wants of the good reverend leading his flock blindly into the trappings of politics, or changing his appearance, personality, and sexual limits to meet the needs and desires of the fallenangels online community, García takes everything that he’s given at face value. One could argue that it isn’t naivety at all, that it is the author’s fearlessness shining through, driving onward toward that next wow moment, that next human connection. If you wrong him, there’s always another new person, another new day. But there are select women that his heart snags on, where he pulls and yanks, hoping to break free, and he just can’t. You, the reader see the subtext, the writing on the walls in big blinking letters to move on. But he won’t. He can’t.
Jesús Ángel García writes with a voice that clearly and truly speaks of a desire to free some burden from his shoulders. The pain that goes on in this story is so real, so alive, that you are sandwiched between him and the prostitute in the opening pages. You’re standing over his shoulder as he moderates online forums, browsing through pictures. You lean against the doorframe of his bathroom while he splashes gray in his temples. Jesús brings you along, not only as a witness, but as a companion out there in the dark with the flourishes and leanings of a beat poet. Despite bad bad bad being García’s debut novel, he handles the narrative with the hands of an experienced guide, making the turn toward the next page all the more reason to find out what happens next, what’s around the next corner, where is that next wow moment. And if you buy his book now, he’ll also give you a complimentary hug.