I have been reading this book for months. Not because it’s long, but it is so heavy I read a few pages and then need days to come back to the text. The book is about a future in which everyone is dying of HIV/AIDS. Everyone. There is a rumour that a sexually transmitted cure exists. The economy functions, barely. Hospices care for the dying, kind of.
Boredom is the enemy. The only escape is a retreat into and out of the body, any body. This novel is grotesque, yes, even in the sense of carnivalesque, because the government puts on a show (to keep calm to keep a semblance of order to spread propaganda to distribute supplies that aren’t always adequate or appropriate). But the novel is also the opposite of grotesque - cold and realistic, sarcastic and unsatirical at the same time. This is how a person deals with illness in a sick society. This is how sense is achieved in nonsense.
The style ofOmholeis repetitive and disjunctive. Lists and numbers, the sterile language of health and unhealth, the plain language of piss and shit, the dirty words of the body, the ugly and gross, are occasionally marred by incredibly beautiful sentences. Temporary lyricism emerges and then is submerged again beneath the muck of living towards death.
This is an amazing take on the dystopian novel. It’s a movement away from the introspective and contemplative narrative. Ohmholeis visceral and horrifying, tragic, unrestrained. It’s exciting, but in a frightening and terrible way. The closest comparison I can think to make is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but Ohmholemore ambiguous: the world is less certain, there is no clear enemy to avoid, no big disaster to point to as the cause. A different kind of suspense because the violence is more drawn out, less immediately fatal. Which I find is ultimately scarier because it seems so much more likely.
Goddamn. Read it. And it just so happens that it’s currently 25% off at the Bookthug website.