Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Well the beginning was pretty good

Amnesia Moon
Jonathan Lethem

I was immediately intrigued upon reading the summary of Lethem’s Amnesia Moon, so much so that I ignored my earlier disappointment in his Fortress of Solitude, which I found to be well written but nevertheless disappointing. (Besides, Amnesia Moon was discounted and only cost three bucks. Three bucks + intriguing summary = Lethem gets another go.)

Here’s the summary that hooked me:

Since the war and the bombs, Hatfork Wyoming is a broken-down, mutant-ridden town.

Wait, hold up. Do I hear mutants? In a post-apocalyptic world? I'm already sold, brother! But, for the sake of being complete, I’ll provide the rest of the summary that so captivated me:

Young Chaos lives in the projection booth in the abandoned multiplex movie house, trying to blot out his present, but unable to remember his past. Then the local tyrant Kellogg reveals to Chaos over a can of dog food that the bombs never fell. The truth, in fact, is a little more complicated…

So Chaos gets behind the wheel of an automobile and, accompanied by a fur-covered female,


Um, did you say fur-covered people?! AWESOME. It’s gotta be good, right??


too obvious?


sets out onto the empty highway on a journey to the edge of his American nightmare: in search of a missing identity and a stolen love.

Ok, so they had me at fur-covered mutants. What can I say? I like mutants, I like books about the end of the world, I like nightmares, I like fur. So I began Amnesia Moon full of hope, a schoolgirl skipping home from the last day of school across a field of daisies.

And let me tell you: the beginning was pretty damn good. It had promise, I tell ya. Sure, I was a little pissed that the aforementioned fur-covered female appears to be the ONLY mutant in the entire novel. But otherwise, I was digging it.

Furthermore, Lethem’s vision of a post-apocalyptic world (while not necessarily offering up anything new) was nevertheless entertaining. Fans of Phillip K. Dick will also enjoy the many allusions and nods to several of Dick’s novels.

Unfortunately, it all went nowhere. Lethem sets up a very interesting premise, one that, if only developed a little bit more, could have made for a very powerful book. Instead, it seems as if he reached the 200-page mark and said, “Fuck it! I’m ending this bitch NOW.” And off he sends everyone into the sunset. Literally. Trust me: I’m not spoiling anything. Actually, I lied. It might have been a sunrise. But I think you get my point.

In a nutshell: Intriguing, but much of it lacked development, and a better resolution wouldn't have hurt, either. But he writes so well, dammit. I wish I liked his stuff more.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2 out of 6 stars

4 comments:

Myrthe said...

It may have been a lousy book, but your review of it had me laughing out loud!

raych said...

Man, I hear you. I finished Fortress of Solitude and thought, 'Well, that was...I mean, it was...well, I'm done now, aren't I?' So frustrating. I would have probably grabbed this one day, thanks for the heads up.

heather (errantdreams) said...

There's something particularly painful & frustrating about a good premise badly executed or ended. Because now that it's been done badly, the author can't just take that story, erase the last third or whatever, and redo it right. So it's like this big feeling of lost opportunities.

Well, that's my take, anyway. :)

I love your review of this! Too funny.

Julie said...

Ha ha, what a great review. You had me at furry mutants too. What a bummer it turned out so bad. :)