Monday, October 18, 2010

Moxyland




I went to the bookstore over the weekend.  I'm talking the corporate chain, firsthand kind of bookstore.  Needless to say, I wasn't going to buy anything, but I do sincerely enjoy going through the shelves and seeing in person books that I might have only read about online.

And on occasion I come across a book that I have never heard of before but rapidly add to my "to read" list.  Moxyland by Lauren Beukes is just such a novel.
More than just a little bit cyberpunk, Beukes' book riffs on quite a few familiar and dystopian memes but appears to fuse it with a postmodern sensibility.  One indication of that lies in the book's description: there are a total of four different narrative voices.  Now one of the first things English classes demand to know of you in either the reading or especially the writing of literature is "whose story is this?"  Moxyland can't seem to answer that definitively as there are multiple viewpoints.  "Bah!  Too confusing!" the academs would scoff.  Not me.  This intrigues me all the more, this Burroughsesque "cut up," this interweaving of narratives.  I just love writers who take chances and shake up the established paradigms.  I'd rather see an author do that and fail than to read the next cookie cutter James Patterson schlock that is locked in for the best seller list.  But I digress.
The action takes place in Cape Town, South Africa during our modern morass of cell phones and surveillance cameras.  Our four voices are an art-school dropout, an AIDS baby, a tech-activist, and an RPG-obsessed blogger living in a world where your online identity is at least as important as your physical one. Getting disconnected is a punishment worse than imprisonment, but someone's got to stand up to Government Inc. - whatever the cost.   There is yet another facet that calls to my attention, the burgeoning conflict between technology, free information, and governmental control, once more postmodernism in the notion that "no Virginia, technology might not save us all."

It should come as no surprise that William Gibson blurbs this book on the back cover...and yes, he seems to have liked it very much.  That, in and of itself, is good enough for me.  Moxyland, here I come.  

Taking a musical look at things, here's what has currently been making my playlists:

The Joshua Tree by U2
Singles by The Smiths
Green by R.E.M.
In My Tribe by 10,000 Maniacs
Secret World by Peter Gabriel

What can I say?  For me, it's still 1988.


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