Cover image for Me & Mr. Cigar : a novel
Me & Mr. Cigar : a novel
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245 pages ; 22 cm.
North Texas. For the past five years Oscar Lester has never been without his dog, Mr. Cigar-- a supernatural companion. Oscar spends most of his time organizing drug-fueled dance parties with his best friend, Lytle Taylor, and all three benefit from the care of Carla Marks, the genius behind the mysterious IBC corporation. Oscar's older sister, Rachel fled Texas after Mr. Cigar bit off her left hand. Rachel phones Oscar out of the blue: She's in New York, being held hostage, and will only be released if she pays a debt she owes. Since nefarious forces are after his dog, Oscar, Lytle, and Mr. Cigar set out to New York, to save Rachel and to save themselves.


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For the past five years seventeen-year-old Oscar Lester has never been without his dog, Mr. Cigar. The two have made a pretty good life for themselves in North Texas. Oscar spends most of his time organizing drug-fueled dance parties with his best friend, Lytle Taylor. And all three benefit from the care of Carla Marks, the genius behind the mysterious IBC corporation. Oscar's deceased CEO father "discovered" Carla, though Oscar's mother spends all her time with her new boyfriend. As for Oscar's older sister, Rachel . . . she fled Texas after Mr. Cigar bit off her left hand. Oscar was twelve. But he alone knows now as he knew then- his beloved pet is no menace. Mr. Cigar is a supernatural companion.

After years of silence, Rachel-now a twenty-two-year-old artist living in New York-phones Oscar out of the blue. She's being held hostage and will only be released if she pays a debt she owes. At the same time, Carla Marks warns Oscar to get out of town. Nefarious forces are after his dog. Suddenly Oscar, Lytle, and Mr. Cigar find themselves on the run to New York, to save Rachel and to save themselves. And in the end, the truth of Rachel's circumstances ultimately uncovers the truth of Oscar's own . . . and the truth about Mr. Cigar.

Author Notes

Gibby Haynes is a musician, visual artist, writer, and filmmaker best known as a founding member of the Butthole Surfers, whose outrageous concerts spawned a global cult following and whose albums have sold millions worldwide. He lives in Brooklyn with his family. Me & Mr. Cigar is his first novel.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--In this debut novel from the lead singer of the band Butthole Surfers, Oscar's best friend is his dog Mr. Cigar. When Oscar is 12, the pair run afoul of his sister's boyfriend, Larry, who kicks Mr. Cigar to his death at the bottom of a bridge. Mr. Cigar resurrects and spawns a bat-like creature that can camouflage with its surroundings. After attacking Oscar's sister Rachel and biting off her hand, the bat creature flies off, never to be seen again. Years later, Oscar is late in his teenage years and has become well known for throwing massive raves at his late father's tech company. He's also something of an amateur drug dealer and Mr. Cigar is still his constant companion. Eventually, a rogue government contractor recognizes Mr. Cigar and wants him back. That, coupled with cryptic phone calls from his sister Rachel in New York, convince Oscar to pack up Mr. Cigar and his human friend Lytle to embark on an impromptu road trip. Can he get away from the evil Colonel Sanders and save his sister in time? The author draws upon his own modest suburban upbringing in Texas in crafting the character of Oscar and his surroundings. The end result is unique, but also highly scattered. The narrative loses focus several times, in particular in a chapter where Oscar is slipped an acid tab by DJ Mike. Teens will no doubt appreciate the way that Oscar and Lytle talk to one another, as their organic dialogue repeatedly reflects modern adolescent immaturity and amazement. Some moments, as when Oscar and Lytle arrive in New York, buy their bikes, and explore Central Park, are a delight to read. VERDICT This strange novel is a supplemental purchase for YA collections.--Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

Publisher's Weekly Review

This drug-fueled escapade from Butthole Surfers frontman Haynes follows 17-year-old Oscar Lester as he travels from Texas to New York City with Mr. Cigar, his "clairvoyant immortal dog," and Lytle Taylor, his black best friend and business partner. The trip serves two purposes: eluding the dogged Colonel Sanders, who claims that Mr. Cigar is government property, and rescuing Oscar's 22-year-old sister Rachel, who calls from her SoHo apartment in desperate need of $35,000. Mr. Cigar, taken in by Oscar five years ago, molted a camouflaging creature that severed Rachel's hand, and aids Oscar in his "assorted nefarious activities"--in one scene, the terrier helpfully carries "five thousand dollars' worth of MDMA" in his mouth. Though lightly sketched, the cast includes intriguing characters, such as Oscar's friend and mentor Carla Marks, who uses her interspecies communication skills to invent scientific marvels. One such invention, an aerosol spray that covers surfaces in a camouflaging video film, proves useful when the boys' repeated failures to source Rachel's ransom result in a nude bank robbery. While the narrative often feels disjointed and absurd for absurdity's sake, Haynes's fast-paced debut is full of colorful characters and concepts. Ages 14--up. (Jan.)

Kirkus Review

With federal agents in hot pursuit, two Texas teens and a small dog with unusual abilities roar off to New York in a battered pickup.Haynes, lead singer of the Butthole Surfers, crafts a gloriously unhinged road trip from a host of promising elements. Five years after meeting Mr. Cigara loyal, frighteningly smart, and possibly immortal escapee (it turns out) from a secret government projectOscar is living the dream, organizing local roadside raves. The idyll comes to an abrupt end, though, as a series of ominous encounters with corrupt cop Cletus Acox and scarred military man Colonel Sanders, coupled with a plea for cash from his desperate older sister, send Oscar, with his canine sidekick and his best buddy Lytle, haring off cross-country. Unfortunately, in the meantime Oscar has unwittingly quaffed a Red Bull doctored with both MDMA and LSDwhich adds, to say the least, a hallucinatory quality to a narrative already propelled by staccato minichapters, profane banter, surreal events highlighted by a bank robbery in the buff, a climactic battle with goons both visible and otherwise, and more than one fatality that turns out to be only temporary. Oscar is wreathed by a colorful supporting cast led by a pooch who is generally the brightest and most dangerous character in the room. Lytle, who is black, is the only character who doesn't present as white.As boy-and-his-dog tales go, a long, long way from Lassie. (Satiric fantasy. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Oscar has never had a truer friend than Mr. Cigar, a black-and-white terrier with uncanny intelligence and a penchant for eluding certain death. It is through their relationship that readers are plunged into a tale of a boy, his dog, cicadas, amputated limbs, unhinged military contractors, and ill-planned bank heists. The story penned by Haynes, lead singer of the rock band Butthole Surfers and debut author, is a nigh-indescribable picaresque that reads like a cross between Jack Kerouac's On the Road and a fever dream. Readers follow Oscar and Mr. Cigar as they attempt to rescue Oscar's sister from would-be kidnappers. On the way, they have all manner of chance encounters and engage in many harebrained schemes that Mr. Cigar ultimately has to fix. This book is definitely not for all readers, as it features drug use front and center, and the violence depicted is overly exaggerated and often used for comedic effect. Nevertheless, these conceits are intentional and have the purposeful effect of presenting a narrative that is relentlessly surreal and utterly unique.



Prologue: The Next Best Thing to Getting Even Is Regretting It   By all accounts, twelve-year-old G. Oscar Lester III was a lucky boy. He lived on top of a hill in the biggest house in town with his father, G. Oscar Lester II, and his mother, Dolores Aims-Lester. The Aims before the Lester was important because, as his mother said, "The Aimses were better than the Lesters and ought to come first." In addition to his mother and father, there were two servants, one butler, a gardener, two cooks and his sister, Rachel Dunbar Lester. Nobody but Mother knew where the "Dunbar" came from, but we all assumed it too was better than Lester.      Rachel tattled on Oscar, was mean to his dog, Mr. Cigar, and even stole Oscar's allowance once and blamed it on the gardener. The gardener was fired, then rehired two days later, when Rachel tearfully admitted the crime at the family dinner table after showing up with a doll worth twice the value of her allowance.      Besides all that, the family was fairly normal for a family that lived on a hill in the biggest house in town with two servants, one butler, a gardener, two cooks and a dog named Mr. Cigar.      From all appearances, life was good for Oscar, and especially today, because it was Saturday. He could wake up late because his mom was at the club, and Big Oscar was playing golf. Oscar had all afternoon to walk around City Lake with Mr. Cigar. Then they would run home through the woods and eat pork and beans and tuna-fish sandwiches, because that's what the cooks made on Saturdays when Dolores Aims and Big Oscar were not at home.      Oh, what a Saturday it was. There wasn't a cloud in the bright blue sky. It was spring. The trees were just now green with blossoms of every kind and color all over.      This would be a great hike. Oscar had a stick in case they found a snake, two hard-boiled eggs in case they got hungry and a compass in case they got lost. But really, they didn't need a compass, because they could see the top of Oscar's house from almost everywhere, except from the woods.      City Lake Park was fun--full of frogs, fish, snakes, raccoons and even opossums, and a rare fox or two. The front side of the lake had picnic tables and cooking pits for all the families who liked that sort of thing. There was a huge field of bumps and trails where all the kids Oscar didn't know would gather and ride their bikes. But the back side of the lake was Oscar's favorite. It was the side of the lake where the wild things were less afraid. It was easier to catch crawdads on the back side. And if you turned over ten rocks, you would either find a snake, a scorpion, or both. Raccoon tracks were everywhere, and one time Sheriff Podus shot a three-footlong alligator there. Nobody would swim in the lake after that, until they realized the alligator had been stolen from the city zoo by high school kids as a prank.      Beyond the back side of the park, the lake turned into Mountain Creek, which was well named because it wound up running into the No-Name Mountains (that's the name). Sometimes a hungry panther would wander down Mountain Creek to steal a chicken from Gebhart's Chicken Farm.      Oscar's hike today would take them a half mile up Mountain Creek, through a field where wildflowers would rise up every spring and paint an area the size of two football fields with an astonishing array of colors. Alongside the creek, halfway through the field, the ground started getting wet and wildflowers gave way to saw grass announcing the beginning of an impassable plot of land called Opossum Swamp. Only a fool would walk through this swamp. So, to get to "the woods," one would have to walk around this muddy wasteland. It was at this point where the top of Oscar's house would disappear. The possibility of getting lost was greater because the oaks that lived in the woods had enormous, high-reaching limbs that seemed to be woven together from tree to tree. And at this time of the year, the vines and branches were so thick with leaves, it seemed like the entire forest had just swallowed up the sky.      Beyond the wildflowers and swamp, it was a half mile through the neck of the woods, across a one-lane bridge, then a quarter mile to the school bus stop and up the hill to Oscar's house, where pork and beans and tuna-fish sandwiches would be waiting. Oscar always walked briskly or even jogged through the woods because this was an uncertain place where navigation was difficult and attainable only through experience. The oak trees in this forest seemed to have arranged themselves in patterns indecipherable to Oscar. As he walked along, it would suddenly seem like he'd ended up in the same place from where he'd started.      Sometimes there were teenagers in the woods who would come across the bridge from the bus stop. Oscar had seen them before, cursing loudly, smoking grapevine and looking at Playboy magazines. They seemed threatening, so he gave them a wide berth, avoiding them at all costs.      It was also in these woods five years ago that Oscar had gotten lost. It was the first time Oscar took the school bus home. When he got off the bus, instead of going up the road and taking a left, he mistakenly went down the road and took a left. He crossed over the narrow bridge and quickly became disoriented among the oaks. Oscar wasn't worried at first, but as time went on he had started to become concerned. Everywhere looked the same, and he had no bearings. Then, just as hope seemed to be a thing of the past, Oscar came to a small clearing, and in the middle of the opening was a small black-and-white terrier sitting on its haunches, crying intensely. Suddenly, the dog sprang to its feet and ran to Oscar, acting like they were long-lost friends, wagging its tail, licking Oscar's face and yelping sounds of welcome.      Oscar instantly fell in love with this dog and he even forgot for a moment just how lost he, now they, were. The sun was starting to wane. It would soon become midautumn cold and Oscar had no idea where to go. He knew he had to keep moving and figured he had been going in a straight line, so it would be better to turn back and try to retrace his steps to reach the bridge. The black-and-white dog hung on Oscar's every move. But, as Oscar was about to leave the clearing where he found the dog, the dog stopped abruptly, barked, then slowly started walking in the opposite direction. Since Oscar did not want to lose his companion, he turned and followed the dog. As Oscar began catching up with the dog, the dog started to pick up speed until Oscar was jogging briskly behind his new friend. Then, in what seemed like only a few minutes, right there, only twenty feet in front of the pair was the one-lane bridge--the bridge that would lead them to the bus stop and their way home.      As they crossed over the creaky old expanse of wood and rusting iron, the weary pair cleared the canopy of the forest, and Oscar could see the top of his house outlined in the orange disk of a full autumn moon. They ran past the bus stop, right down the middle of the road, then through the gate and up the hill to the family house. Oscar, more than relieved to be home, walked through the entry and into the dining room, where he had arrived just in time to see the coffee served after dessert. He breathlessly told of getting lost in the woods and being rescued by a black-and-white terrier. His father listened to his story and told him that the family had been worried about Little Oscar, and that he was foolish for getting lost. He then ordered Oscar, "Go to your room. Jenny"--the cook--"will bring your dinner to you there." Oscar turned toward his room, then paused and replied, "Okay, but Daddy, the dog that showed me the way out is on the front porch." He paused again. "Can I keep him?" Big Oscar ended the situation by proclaiming, "Absolutely not! Now go to your room. We are leaving early tomorrow for Uncle Vincent's annual lobster brunch." Without really acknowledging his father, Oscar formed the words, "Yes, sir." He then turned and hurried to his bedroom and closed the door, then opened his window and called, "Here, boy," in the direction of the front porch. Within seconds, the terrier was in Oscar's room and under his sheets, curled up in a ball for a good night's sleep.      Oscar waited until the next day to ask again if he could keep the dog. His dad said no and kept saying no every day for six more days, until he realized the dog had been staying in the house for a week without him noticing. Big Oscar finally gave in, said the dog could stay and asked what his name was. Without hesitating, Oscar replied, "Mr. Cigar."      It had been five years since Oscar met Mr. Cigar, and they've hiked around City Lake many times since. Mr. Cigar had not changed a bit, and Oscar sometimes thought Mr. Cigar could read his mind. Today, as Oscar and Mr. Cigar walked down the hill to City Lake, Oscar remarked to himself that this not only had been a beautiful spring, it was also an important spring. Important because it was the last spring for Oscar before he became a teenager. He wasn't sure if he was ready to be a teenager; he found the older kids threatening at times and he just sort of liked life the way it was. More important, this was his last spring on City Lake because in the fall he would be shipped off to Connelly Boarding School, over five hundred miles away. Oscar was okay with the school because it was a good one and he was an excellent student in any math or science class. Plus, Big Oscar paid for a gymnasium for the school a few years before, so it was okay for Mr. Cigar to live with Oscar in the dormitory.      Oscar's sister, Rachel, was now seventeen. This was an important spring for her as well. She was just finishing her last year at St. Barbara's, the local private school. In the fall she too would leave home. An excellent student and a better-than-average-artist, she would settle for nothing less than Ivy League, and was headed for Brown University. In the past she had preferred the friendship of her private-school friends over the local kids. In the last year of school, however, she had fallen in with some of the troublemakers, like the scary kids in the woods Oscar had seen before. Rachel had a boyfriend, Larry Teeter, who Oscar couldn't stand because he would pretend to kick Mr. Cigar, and he said mean things and sometimes smelled like alcohol and cigarettes.      At the bottom of the hill on this important spring day, Oscar and Mr. Cigar turned into City Lake Park, passed the picnic tables and cooking pits and arrived at the field of bumps where the kids rode their bikes. Oscar only recently found out that Rachel and Larry sometimes went there and that everyone called this place Devil's Ditches.      On the way to the back side of City Lake, Oscar and Mr. Cigar spent the afternoon lifting up rocks, lying in the sun and skipping stones in a particularly calm part of the lake, where the flat pieces of limestone seemed to float on the water's surface forever. Mr. Cigar chased a rabbit that disappeared into a hole, and Oscar found a small garter snake that he held for a few moments before returning the reptile to its rocky lair. As the shadows started getting long, the pair continued up Mountain Creek and across the field of wildflowers, around Opossum Swamp approaching the last leg of their journey--the entrance to the woods where the giant oaks live and the forest swallows up the sky. Mr. Cigar barked and slowly picked up speed as they began their swift passage through the neck of the woods, over the bridge to the bottom of the road, where they would find themselves only moments away from home, pork and beans and tuna-fish sandwiches.      The forest was extra dark today as the sun dipped behind some clouds. But Oscar and Mr. Cigar had made this trip many times before, so navigation was not an issue. Soon, they came to the bridge and gingerly stepped onto its creaking mass of wood. As was his custom, Oscar stopped halfway across to stare at the shallow creek that flowed maybe ten feet below. It was at this point that Oscar realized that they were not alone. Coming from the other end of the bridge, between them and their tuna-fish sandwiches, was Larry Teeter, Rachel's icky boyfriend. He was with three of his cronies that Oscar vaguely recognized, and they were approaching quickly. Oscar considered his options, but there was really nothing the pair could do but hold their ground and hope for the best. The four of them, faster and stronger than any twelve-year-old, were all wearing big, unfriendly smiles. Oscar knew that nothing happy was going to take place on the bridge that day. Excerpted from Me & Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.