by Tim Powers
. * * * 1/2 (explanation)
Twelve year old Koot Hoomie Parganas, also known as Kootie to the school chums who torment him, comes home to find his ex-hippie parents murdered.
Now it's true that since they had been setting him up to be the new Krishnamurti, with the whole lucrative charismatic religion thing behind it, his childhood had been far from normal or even happy. But that didn't mean someone should murder them.
Kootie runs away, understanding that whoever killed his parents was probably looking for him, too. Pretty soon, though, someone else takes over Kootie's head. The ghost of Thomas Alva Edison, which he inadvertently inhaled while destroying a mantel ornament in his house.
The story progresses as dozens of ghost-snorting junkies pursue Kootie around the Los Angeles Basin looking to extract this powerful hit from his brain. Read the book to see what happens.
This is what passes for Magical Realism in American mainstream literature. Still, it's a great story, fun to read. So is the sequel, Earthquake Weather.