When I saw him so absorbed in his reading, for he was reading as he walked, my curiosity was piqued. You know how much I love books. I could not have been more astonished. He can not be in his right mind. Do you know what he was enjoying so much? A book about Chinese tortures, with photographs of those who had been decapitated and skinned alive.
I'd just started an Irvine Welsh novel when I remembered that I have a meeting of my RL book club at the end of the month *slaps head*. With that in mind I decided I should really get started on this as I'm not getting a lot of time to read at the minute, due to writing commitments.
So far I'm really enjoying it. I love novels written from a duel perspective and this has the story of Urania, a woman who has returned to her home in the Dominican Republic, running alongside that of the dictator Rafael Trujillo during his reign, over thirty years earlier..
What has most impressed me so far is the quality of the writer and the fantastic evocation of place.
This is not The Magicians. This book falls squarely into the tradition of Bret Easton Ellis, Joshua Ferris and Douglas Coupland in that its about disaffected youngsters flailing about on their road after adulthood set in and trying to find some kind of meaning to it all. One of these youngsters, obviously, is more precious than the rest and its his journey that we follow.
Hmm, the above may sound a little harsh, but I actually like this genre a lot, its a nice snapshot of 'cool' hedonism of past decades. Its fun to read the references, the opinions on musical icons and movies, and - Warp in particular - commentary on science fiction.
The plot revolves around Hollis Kessler and his quest to find something to do with his days in the funk surrounding the exit of his professional ex-girlfriend and, in the meantime, a side-quest to have a good party in a stranger's house. There's a manic pixie dream girl named Xanthe and several other friends who serve as a sliding scale of debauchery and wasted potential.
There is a lot of Catcher in the Rye in this book. Grossman has a good ear for catching realistic dumb conversations (I mean that in the best way) and there is a heart to this book that makes it rise above all of the faint praise I've given it thus far. I enjoyed reading it. You might, too.