This is a novel that feels like it owes a lot to Don Delillo and J.G. Ballard, and is a kind of more sardonic George Saunders. And it also feels like a novel that I would have loved or at least loved the idea of in my early 20s. I still liked it, but over the course of the novel, the conceit and the execution drifted farther and farther apart for me and by the end I was very much ready for it to be over. In addition, this is the second time I had given it a shot and by the time I got 30 pages in, where I had previously stopped, I was wavering. Ultimately, I feel like this was an extended and too extended short story, that should have probably capped out at about 60-75 pages.
Anyway, the story here takes place in a kind of dystopic or apocalyptic suburban nightmare of a town. It’s not a dystopia, especially in the sense that nothing is explained about the nightmare vision (hence my feelings toward J.G. Ballard)….it’s simply a kind of fallen world. The houses are bordered and guard by pit-traps filled with broken glass or sharpened pungee sticks and other traps, there’s a sense of warzone about everything. There’s a whole bunch of funny and weird literary references, and the whole story is about a local election for mayor in which our narrator, Mr. Robinson, a second grade teacher, hopes to win. It’s an interesting and a challenging book to be sure, but I wasn’t clear on whether it was a rewarding book.