Chris's Reviews > The Gone-Away World

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
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's review
Jun 28, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: weird-fiction

If Joseph Heller asked Douglas Adams to co-write a madcap, darkly hilarious satire of the war on terror and modern multi-national corporations with the tone of a noir detective novel trapped between magical-realism and sci-fi, it might read like "The Gone-Away World." And if it did, I would recommend you read it.

What might be most remarkable about this book is the sheer amount of ridiculousness that Harkaway manages to cram into this novel, but without it actually every feeling silly, merely absurd in an oddly workable, at times even poignant tone. In no particular order, this book includes: a main character named Gonzo Lubvitch, a lost school of secret kung fu, exploding sheep, monster trucks, ninjas, an imaginary friend brought to life, a troupe of mimes, a WMD that makes matter "Go Away," the disguised leader of a resistance movement, pirates, rebuilding society in a post-apocalyptic world, and very expensive menswear.

Still, it has a maturity about it that makes it satire rather than slap-stick, Catch-22 rather than Hitchiker's Guide. Something about the magical-realist dream-logic, as well as the noir over-tones, reminded me of Berry's "The Manual of Detection." As a first novel, it sets the bar very high for Harkaway's sophomore effort.
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