Sunday, February 01, 2015

Review: Amnesia Moon


Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem
The book opens with a guy who decides he'd rather drive on the wrong side of the highway. Because he can. Because it's his highway. Because he's claimed as such. This is the world after something has changed everything. Everything has gotten "local" - there is no big, there is no central, there is no country. There is only your current existence, subsistence. No one seems to remember what happened, and if there are people who actually do, they're not saying. But everything's different now. You might scrap by for food, you might live in a town where you move twice a week, or where air is literally as think (or at least as green) as pea soup and you move everywhere following guide ropes.

This is the post-apocalyptic world of Amnesia Moon, an on-the-road travelogue of someone trying to remember his past, what happened, and trying to understand what's real and what's not. If you're hoping for answers, you'll be left wanting, or maybe you won't. But you won't get them. If you stop to ask questions of logic and semantics, you'll get pulled along to the next stop before you have a chance to think about them too long. And maybe one of the characters will ask the same question you have. Don't worry, they won't really get any answers either.

If I had been reading this in print, I probably would not have made it to the end. However, the audiobook is well done, the narrator approaching it more like a radio play, with a wide cast of characters and voices to match, he did a really good job. Rarely does it feel like a voice changed, though there are two spots where it sounds like a line was re-recorded later. The author does a great job with imagining and describing a world where even some of the laws -- like gravity -- aren't entirely fixed (in the process also giving the narrator some great clues about how to approach a scene.)

In the end, the book concludes. Rather quickly, I might add. As if the author ultimately got tired of his journey. In the end, the main character finds something and I think we're to understand that this was what he was looking for all along, even if he didn't realize it himself.

It was a real trip to listen to as I drove and I'd find myself looking forward to the next chance to be in the car to find out what happened next.

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