I have no idea how to start talking about this. While I was reading it, my wife and I had a conversation. What happened was this:
- “Really? What’s it about?”
- “I don’t know.”
- “How much have you read?”
- “About half.”
Frankly we could have had that conversation at any point up to the last few dozen pages. There are three plot strands which, as is customary, slowly come together. The final conclusion (that’s FINAL CONCLUSION, spoilerphobes) is actually pretty satisfying as I realized for all that I was being smugly self-congratulatory about spotting emerging connections I’d completely missed one of the biggest and, in retrospect, most obviously foreshadowed. I’ve always been shit at anagrams.
After explaining so little in the build up the dénouement could only really have gone one of two ways, either wrap it all up nicely with a bow or leave everything hanging and admit that it had all been a complete wild goose chase. I’m almost (almost) disappointed that he chose the former.
The plot, however, is kind of incidental. This is a novel of quite stunning style, as it would have to be to keep me reading nigh on 300 pages with only the vaguest idea of what was actually happening. Style over substance then? Well, there is substance here, definitely, but perhaps not quite as much as it likes to think it has. And I cared about that not one jot.
There’s a very strong Vonnegutian streak running through all this. A similar narrative detachment. A similar economy and precision in gutting the characters and laying them out flensed for you examination and amusement. A similar blankly sharp appreciation of the absurdity of the mundane and the mundanity of the absurd.
On the down side one of the main supporting characters is called Billy Anker, which is really pushing it, and that cover is quite violently appalling. Still, I can think of few better ways of spending time than going deep in the K-tract. Fnarr.