Garcia, Eric 1972–
Garcia, Eric 1972–
PERSONAL: Born 1972, in Miami, FL; married; wife's name Sabrina; children: Bailey (daughter). Education: Studied film and creative writing at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
CAREER: Novelist and screenwriter.
Anonymous Rex: A Detective Story, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
Casual Rex, Villard (New York, NY), 2001.
Matchstick Men, Villard (New York, NY), 2002.
Hot and Sweaty Rex: A Dinosaur Mafia Mystery, Villard (New York, NY), 2004.
Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys, Regan-Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Writer of scripts for films and for television series, including Babylon 5 and Walker, Texas Ranger.
ADAPTATIONS: Anonymous Rex was recorded as an audiobook by Publishing Mills Audio and is being adapted for a Sci-Fi Channel television series; Matchstick Men was made into a feature film, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell, 2003; Hot and Sweaty Rex was recorded as an audiobook by Books on Tape, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: In 2000 Eric Garcia earned acclaim with his debut novel, Anonymous Rex: A Detective Story. The main characters are miniature dinosaurs in latex human costumes. Readers follow the activities of Vincent Rubio, a tough velociraptor, as he investigates a case of arson. Why dinosaurs? Garcia recounted the genesis of Rubio in an online interview at the Anonymous Rex Web site. While flipping channels on his television one day, the author ran across a special on dinosaurs and the various theories for their disappearance. "It was amazing to me how few of these scientists—incredibly learned, intelligent, well-spoken men and women—could agree with one another, and showed not more than a little contempt for the others' viewpoints. So I decided I'd come up with a different theory altogether, since there were so many out there already." In Garcia's world, dinosaurs work in all walks of life, disguising themselves as humans to keep their existence secret. Rubio is the typical hard-boiled detective, who suffers from an addiction—in this case to the herb basil; he becomes romantically involved with a beautiful woman and solves a knotty case.
The humor in Anonymous Rex caught the attention of book reviewers. An Entertainment Weekly critic, who called the novel "awesomely funny" and at the same time a "good mystery," predicted that it could become a cult classic. "At odd moments the narrative veers into shtick, but while it's going on you're mostly going to be dazzled by Garcia's energy and chutzpah," declared a Publishers Weekly critic. Remarking on the "screw-ball details that make the story," Booklistreviewer Stephanie Zvirin judged the book a "hoot." "Apart from showing off a splendidly warped imagination, Garcia provides a solid mystery," wrote Jennifer Wulff in People. "Dino-mite detective yarn," she punned. Writing in the Library Journal, A.J. Anderson maintained that although the book would appeal to those people who enjoy anthropomorphic characters and absurd humor, it would probably "jar the sensibilities of hardcore detective fiction buffs who take their mysteries seriously."
Garcia followed Anonymous Rex with a prequel, Casual Rex, and a stand-alone novel, Matchstick Men. In Casual Rex, the author introduces his reptilian private detective, who takes on the case of rescuing his partner Ernie's ex-brother-in-law from a cult of other dinosaurs masquerading as humans. "Garcia keeps the jokes coming, bordering on overwriting but coming out on top to present a tale that's slightly cornball, at times hilarious and unquestionably original," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Bob Lunn, writing in the Library Journal, commented: "This book is recommended as great fun."
Garcia presents a slightly more grounded tale in his novel Matchstick Men, about two con artists named Roy and Frankie. Roy suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and applies those traits to his criminal work. Frankie is a risk taker and spendthrift who balks when Roy's newly discovered daughter is taken into the con. Ryan Brown, writing in Booklist, commented that Garcia "creates a tense and tragic comedy that will have you cheering on the criminals." A film version of Matchstick Men, featuring Nicolas Cage as Roy and Sam Rockwell as Frankie, was released in theaters in August of 2003.
The author returns to his latex-clad dinosaurs in Hot and Sweaty Rex: A Dinosaur Mafia Mystery. Vincent Rubio is once again at the center of the action as a childhood friend dupes him into working for the Mafia. "Fast fantasy action and intrigue abound," noted a Library Bookwatch contributor.
Garcia takes on the "chick-lit" genre in his novel Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys. In the story, French is a movie studio lawyer who chains up men in her basement, drugs them with morphine, and trains them to be perfect gentlemen—or they might find themselves part of the dog's dinner. "The theme of so many of these chick-lit books seems to be, I am this woman who deserves something great and here are these men who are … good, not great," Garcia explained in an interview with Jay MacDonald on the BookPage Web site. "And they tend to spend the next 300 pages of the book or 90 minutes of the movie sort of whining about it. I'm like, that's just not a strong character. Who wants to hear somebody whine for that long? So I thought, what would a stronger-willed character do?" Garcia attempts to answer that question through Cassandra French.
Commenting on the need for readers to suspend disbelief in order to thoroughly enjoy his works, Garcia told MacDonald: "With the dinosaur books, after the first 20 pages you kind of forget they're dinosaurs and just sort of go with the flow. I'm getting similar responses to Cassie [French,] where, after the first little bit you start to forget that she's doing these incredibly illegal and amoral things and you just go with it because you understand where she's coming from." Shelley Mosley writing in Library Journal, called Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys "wickedly witty." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that "this chick-lit-goes-gonzo" novel will appeal to a larger audience than the author's dinosaur mysteries and has the potential to be Garcia's "breakout book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, January-February, 2003, Steve Wilson, review of Matchstick Men, p. 81.
Booklist, July, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Anonymous Rex, p. 1927; December 15, 2002, Ryan Brown, review of Matchstick Men, p. 732.
Entertainment Weekly, September 10, 1999, review of Anonymous Rex, p. 146.
Library Bookwatch, May, 2005, review of Hot and Sweaty Rex.
Library Journal, July, 1999, A.J. Anderson, review of Anonymous Rex, p. 141; January 1, 2001, Bob Lunn, review of Casual Rex, p. 153; August, 2004, Shelley Mosley, review of Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys, p. 67.
New York Times Book Review, April 8, 2001, Scott Veale, review of Anonymous Rex, p. 28.
People, September 13, 1999, Jennifer Wulff, "Pages," p. 51; July 5, 2004, Andrea L. Sachs, review of Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys, p. 46.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1999, review of Anonymous Rex, p. 62; January 8, 2001, review of Casual Rex, p. 50; May 24, 2004, review of Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys, p. 45.
Village Voice, September 28, 1999, David Bowman, "Eric Garcia's Jurassic Noir," p. 57.
Anonymous Rex Web site, http://www.anonymousrex.com/ (November 18, 2005).
BookPage.com, http://www.bookpage.com/ (November 18, 2005), Jay MacDonald, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," July 2004 interview with the author.
Eric Garcia Home Page, http://www.ericgarcia.com (November 18, 2005).
SF Site, http://www.sfsite.com/ (November 18, 2005), David Soyka, March 2001 interview with the author.