Jesse Bullington's Reviews > Move Under Ground

Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas
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's review
Feb 03, 2010

really liked it
Read in January, 2010

Read and enjoyed Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas last week. It really got me thinking on the old chestnut of writing about historical events and persons--do you write in such a way that someone with zero knowledge of the subject matter going into the novel will be able to follow--at the risk of being overly expository--or do you just plunge in and write for yourself and others who are intimate with the material? The way I write is to (attempt to) juggle the two, including tidbits the aficionado will appreciate that won't punish the ignorant reader, so that you're both educating the novice and rewarding those in the know. In re: Move Under Ground, I'm at least roughly familiar with the cast and especially of Burroughs so never felt lost though I'm sure a great deal of nuance went over my head, but never so much that I minded. Or rather, noticed.

I first heard about the novel before having read any of Mamatas's short fiction and so reacted to it in the same way I reacted to hearing about Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan way back when: like a complete dumbass. Hearing "it's a SF comic book about an obvious Hunter Thompson character" instilled me with the same amount of confidence or interest as "it's a novel about the Beats facing off against the Old Ones," which is to say, very little. Yet in both cases when I finally checked out the work in question all I could do was kick myself for being such a doubting Thomas--just because I can't imagine a successful fusion of such things doesn't mean it's not possible. Mamatas's novel is the sort of pastiche that makes you wince when you use the word "pastiche" to describe it, because it seems so much better than the p-word would imply. A very fun novel, excellently written.
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