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This book has ADD, 2. Juni 2000
You know how when you read certain books they hit this emotional chord and you think to yourself, quite irrationally: "I could have written that."? I mean, of course you couldn't, those books were written by Fitzgerald, or Salinger, and the reason they are the Great American Novel is because they engender precisely that emotion. And then, of course, there are those books you really enjoy but know you couldn't have possibly written, like Corelli's Mandolin, that come from a completely different voice than your own, but boy are they impressive in their own right?
Well this book is the one you feel, "you know, I could have written that", and I really screwed it up.
Which is to say this is written by a guy who is obviously steeped in the same postmodern tradition as most Ivy League Generation X literati; he has read Douglas Adams, and Stephenson, and Salinger, and Pynchon, and the Illuminati Trilogy, and a pile of dystopian science fiction books, and Moby Dick, and probably had a brief affair with Ayn Rand (because lets face it, she spun a good yarn) when he was a teenage Republican in the Reagan years, but rejected it later like a good Democrat at the height of the PC era at the beginning of the decade when he decided to write his second book.
This is a book about being that guy. It is more interesting for all the things that are wrong with the book, than for the read itself. If you like that whole Brechtian feeling of watching a play with the lights on, this is the book for you. The flaws make it impossible to get absorbed. The book itself is distracted.
The flaws are so constant that you spend most of your time noticing them: A purple and green submarine is not funny. It is referential, perhaps, to Robert Anton Wilson, and the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, and perhaps even the Beatles Yellow submarine, but it is not funny. It is zany and madcap and postmodern, I suppose.
(Brief aside: Tom Robbin's aluminum trailer made to look like a roast turkey is funny -- I don't know why, but I think you'll agree there is a difference here)
But if we are being zany and madcap, then the destruction of the black race is not really appropriate, is it? That kind of thing is more appropriate to a dystopian social satire like Brazil or Brave New World. Dark and satirical is not zany. And I would argue that dystopian fiction is, or should be, pretty much immune to parody. Here is an author who loves a bunch of different genres, and has a lot of ideas, and can't focus on any of them, so he throws them all into the pot. He dabbles with historical fiction, Sci-Fi, social satire, self-conscious postmodernism, and outright parody. If you have ever eaten lobster with chocolate and macaroni and cheese, you know how well this works out.
Anyway, terrific marketing. This book was terrible, but between Amazon reviews and its credentials from Stephenson, Pynchon, et al., I bought it. I recommend you don't make the same mistake.