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Blueprints of the Afterlife

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,156 ratings  ·  375 reviews
From the “wickedly talented” (Boston Globe) and “darkly funny” (New York Times Book Review) Ryan Boudinot, Blueprints of the Afterlife is a tour de force.

It is the Afterlife. The end of the world is a distant, distorted memory called “the Age of F***ed Up Shit.” A sentient glacier has wiped out most of North America. Medical care is supplied by open-source nanotechnology,
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Grove/Atlantic
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
here is my page!

isn't is awesome when a power outage eats your book review?? i think so.

let me try this again. i understand greg's difficulties in reviewing this, what with not wanting to give anything away, because this is a book constructed in such a careful way, it could only be spoiled by a careless reviewer.

mfso has threatened to write a "word-limit breaching review" of this, and greg's is pretty long too, once you hack into all his nested spoilers. i am going to try to do this tantalizingl
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, dystopic
"The world was full of precious garbage." This first sentence of the book immediately collided with me like the planet Melancholia mercilessly crushing the Earth, both because it's densely packed with meaning that yearns to be unsealed and extrapolated, and because it immediately reminded me of this great TED talk that the author had given in the months leading up to the release of this book, which I've watched/listened to several times, including once more, right now, with new ears, as I begin ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, life-is-shit
January 21st addition to the review:

Ryan Boudinot sent me the page of the manuscript that mentions Minor Threat! How awesome is that!

And now for the review as it was written a few weeks ago:

She yearned for plot but instead absurdity after absurdity had been thrown before her, absurdities that alluded to obscured purposes

A true bit of historical fact that maybe my goodreads friends of the Northwest know, but which I didn't. Seattle was originally called New York. And then it was called New York
Paul Bryant
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
There’s a rising tide of weirdness, you see it in movies (Being John Malkovich, City of Lost Children, Love Exposure, I Heart Huckabees), you hear it in music (Six Organs of Admittance, Animal Collective) and of course we see it onrushing into the wonderful world of modern fiction too.

Me, I go only so far. I like jazz, for instance, when I can discern the vestiges of the melody the guy is improvising upon, when there’s the merest mental toehold left in the cacophony, it’s 99% wildness but there’
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to keep this as short as possible, because there are at least three really good long reviews available for consumption, and also because I'm lazy and don't want to give anything away.

This book fucking works. Lots of things indicate that it shouldn't: the absurd sci-fi conceits, the use of words and phrases like "Twitter" and "viral marketing campaign," and the blurb that calls Boudinot "the Wikileaks of the zeitgeist," for instance. But Boudinot, like Wallace and occasionally Saunders,
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Well, I wrote it, so I think it's pretty rad. But that's not the reason I'm writing this review. I'm writing to announce a Blueprints of the Afterlife MANUSCRIPT PAGE GIVEAWAY. Basically it works like this: mention the book somewhere online, send me a snail mail address, and I'll send that address a one-of-a-kind, signed copy of a page from the manuscript. See more details on ...more
LeeAnn Heringer
This book started so well. It was a coherent, if a bit wacky, story with a strong protagonist, Woo-jin Kan, that seemed to be going somewhere what with finding the same dead girl in the same field on the way home from work every day. And then everything fell apart and that whole A+B=C storytelling thing got thrown out the window because that's so last century, that's so pre-FUS.

When I figured out toward the end of reading the book that the author had done TED talks, it all started to make sense
Nate D
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: championship dishwashers, clones 157 through 224
Recommended to Nate D by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
This is one of those sci-fi books that is filled (over-filled maybe) with clones, technological anomalies, future apocalypse scenarios, new methods in transplant organ growth -- all kinds of obviously sci-fi devices -- except that it doesn't feel like sci-fi while you're reading it. It feels like (and probably is the literary progeny of) some of the greats of ecstatic post-modernism, Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, people with big ideas and a taste for both pulpy genre device and formal eloque ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, modern-lit, favorites
I almost gave this book four stars but I just couldn't do it. It's so flawed, the latter half in particular was such a letdown, but the whole package, the haecceity, is winsome enough that it's hard to deny it top marks.

When I first started this book I fell for its particular haecceity pretty hard. I was in love! I woke up each morning excited because I would get to read it on the subway. It wasn't any one particular thing that Boudinot did just right, it was the whole gestalt, which my mind cou
Kyle Muntz
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read in 2014, and maybe the last few years. It does lot of things at once, but almost all of them work--and, in particular, it seemed like Boudinout is succeeding where so many other writers have failed.

Blueprints of the Afterlife has a lot of the elements we generally associate with "postmodernism" (structural innovation and layers of narrative; a cerebral but also casual tone somewhere in the post DFW tradition; moments of metafiction, etc) but what seems most impor
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
here's a quote from page 405 as a summation: "Sylvie [sylvie is really abby, but abby now lives in new york alki and has slowly taken on the persona of sylvie, a book editor from the "real new york" who was killed, one assumes, during the fus, and she is referring to the book about love that Woo-jin, another character, has written on pizza boxes. sylvie/abby has been djed so really is not living in "reality"] sighed. "It's about the beginning of a new world. There's a rampaging glacier in it. Cl ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My best friend Joel recommended Richard Kelly's bizarre film Southland Tales a few years ago. I found considerable overlap with Southland Tales and Blueprints of the Afterlife, certainly more than between Boudinot's novel and Infinite Jest, which appears to be the trope many reviewers are leaning toward. Southland Tales also features a familiar future with our liminal excesses appropriated and a plethora of references abound, especially of German philosophy, though Boudinot reaches to Nietzsche ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: randomchoice
Fantastic experience, as always.

The best way I can describe this novel is that I felt like I was in a dream. You know how when you're dreaming, very strange things happen one after another, and sometimes there are gaps, and sometimes people change into other people, but somehow it all flows and still makes perfect sense? That's how I felt. I never knew what was coming next, I was constantly surprised, and yet it all made sense in some bizarre way.

I also felt like I've read a lot of dystopia nov
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a waste of time! There are moments of great creativity mixed with pure lazy. Its like the whole book was about nothing, just a few blunt induced epiphanies put upon a 416 page, self indulgent book. So many times I was tempted to stop reading, the multi-layered story giving me a headache, but I kept on, out of curiosity really. I literally had to flip through previous chapters to remember names and all for nothing. Pretty terrible in my opinion, very disappointing.
Tyler Hill
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
(In some sort of frustrating example of life imitating art, the internet just ate my review. As a result, I get to rewrite it all over again. Yay for awful!)

As the legions of you who follow my reviews have probably noticed, I haven't given out any 1-or-2-star review yet. This is because if I'm not enjoying a book by, say, half way through it, I don't have much issue with setting it down and never picking it up again. And, as policy, I don't review any books here until after I finish them. That s
Edward Rathke
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot to love about this novel. Conceptually, it's one of the best novels I've read in a long time. Maybe ever. It's hugely ambitious with big ideas that're completely awesome and interesting. The characters and the world are all there and everything's pretty great.

That being said, the narrative style is perhaps my least favorite kind. It's very David Foster Wallace-y, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it hits on a lot of the recent postmodern narrative trends that I find least pl
Nick Black
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nick by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
A smart book that doesn't really go anywhere. Lots of interesting ideas at the level of a TEDtalk--i.e. a book that makes you sit up and say "hrmmmmmm!" but then you think about it for a few seconds and realize things are full of holes (and thus a grand book for pretentious literary types without much formal training). Owes a tremendous debt to Pynchon, especially The Crying of Lot 49, which is made explicit by a roaming, destructive glacier (a clear homage to the giant adenoid from Gravity's Ra ...more
Marc Kozak
Words are failing when trying to describe this one. I apologize in advance.

What we have here is one of the most creative, bizarre, frighteningly hilarious, hilariously frightening, post-post-apocalyptic, science fiction adventure stories there is. This is like Kurt Vonnegut and 1984 mixed with big important Questions like why are we here and what's it all for? And curse words. Lots and lots of curse words.

In this not-too-distant future, the world already ended a while ago due to a multitude of r
Charles Dee Mitchell
Let's imagine that at some point during the 1980's a group known as the Kirkpatrick Academy scoured the country, maybe the world, for the brightest young minds they could find. They then took them to the Academy, which to the ouside world does not appear to exist, and set them to work on whatever projects they found most interesting, And what if their plan for saving the earth involved eliminating 95% of the polulation, the only schism in the group being whether to do it sooner than later.

Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read this year, and it's saying a lot because I've lucked on a chain of much excellent reads. The Age of Fucked Up Shit is something that's got me very excited, despite the magnitude of tragedy involved. A frightening yet giddy vision of humanity's possibilities. Dauntingly optimistic despite the bleak visions of the Bionet and the human-robot relations; The future manages to be painted rose-coloured in fragrant bursts of psychedelia.

You carry your memories in your po
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Slipstream is a genre name coined by Bruce Sterling to describe a " ... kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility." This is work that fits somewhere in the interstices between literary fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. It is more like magical realism than any other genre, but it is its own thing. Slipstream contains elements of genre (like science fiction), but it isn't ...more
Mark Wallace
I just read this in three days and am considering starting it all over again. Fantastic. And, dare I say, important.

This appears at first glance to be a rollicking look at our dystopian future, but turns out to be so much more, and on so many different levels at once. The bleak and sometimes cruel but always quite entertaining world that is the backdrop for most of the book turns out to be painted on the inner surface of a Klein bottle from which pours the most honeyed elixir of harmony and love
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mir by: MFSO, karen, Greg
Shelves: cover-love
I have dreams just like this.
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New Yorkers, by and by
Recommended to Alan by: The Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, WV
What—what the hell did I just read?

As a former professional dishwasher myself, I can attest to the accuracy of Ryan Boudinot's character Woo-jin Kan, a former Olympic dishwasher (in the Restaurant and Hotel Manager Olympics, that is), and his obsessions with pot-scrubbing lasers and diamond-impregnated steel wool, his speculations that the food has bonded with the material of the pan in some chemical way that'll never come clean, the romance of the Hobart's doors' steady rise and fall with each
Jan 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
(view spoiler)

I'm not really sure if I have much to say about this book outside that one spoiler. This book isn't about what I thought it was going to be about when I started it. It isn't about what I thought it was going to be about when I was halfway through. It isn't about what at the end I was like of hey that's what it's about. Why is that? well the first two were proven wrong and the last, well it doesn't rewrite the 400 pages befor
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Ryan Boudinot gained notoriety after writing the essay "Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One." It included such nuggets of wisdom such as "If you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it" and "No one cares about your problems if you're a shitty writer" where he wrote, "Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Absurdist romp.

Jesus! This fucking book! So many interesting things to think about, although I agree with other reviewers that some sections felt pointless (I'm still not sure what the point of the real-world zombie-killing video game was) or indulgently juvenile (clone orgy! the pop of a penis coming out of a sex doll!), but over-all the book provides so much interesting food for thought that I'm willing to overlook the sections that had me giving Boudinot the side-eye and being like "How quain
Mark Flanagan
Championship dishwasher Woo-jin Kan is told by his future self that he must quit his job at Il Italian Joint and write a book called How to Love People so that The Last Dude, who sits atop an Arizona mesa, can read this book and spell out for any onlookers what it was that brought about the end of humanity. It starts there and gets weirder. Marauding sentient glaciers, floating celestial heads, miniature software development monks - that sort of thing.

Boudinot is both a hilariously gifted wordsm
“Do not fight this book: Let it take you where it’s going, and let it show you what it wants to show you. You’ll be glad you did.”
~ by Samantha Holloway

I went along for the ride and tried not to fight this book. But I got exhausted.

It's humorous on the bizarro genre. Having read High-Rise and The Man in the High Castle, I enjoyed those reads more.
Jacob Earl
total mindfuck. one of the best books i've ever read.
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Ryan Boudinot is the author of the novels Blueprints of the Afterlife and Misconception, and the story collections The Octopus Rises and The Littlest Hitler.

Ryan received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Bennington College. He also holds a BA from The Evergreen State College. Born in the US Virgin Islands, he grew up in Skagit Valley, in Washington State, and now lives in S

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“. . . waves of desert heat . . . I must’ve passed out, because when I woke up I was shivering and stars wheeled above a purple horizon. . . . Then the sun came up, casting long shadows. . . . I heard a vehicle coming. Something coming from far away, gradually growing louder. There was the sound of an engine, rocks under tires. . . . Finally it reached me, the door opened, and Dirk Bickle stepped out. . . .

But anyway so Bickle said, “Miracles, Luke. Miracles were once the means to convince people to abandon reason for faith. But the miracles stopped during the rise of the neocortex and its industrial revolution. Tell me, if I could show you one miracle, would you come with me and join Mr. Kirkpatrick?”

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He said, “You could explain the fridge a few ways. One, there’s some hidden outlet, probably buried in the sand, that leads to a power source far away. I figure there’d have to be at least twenty miles of cable involved before it connected to the grid. That’s a lot of extension cord. Or, this fridge has some kind of secret battery system. If the empirical details didn’t bear this out, if you thoroughly studied the refrigerator and found neither a connection to a distant power source nor a battery, you might still argue that the fridge had some super-insulation capabilities and that the food inside had been able to stay cold since it was dragged out here. But say this explanation didn’t pan out either, and you observed the fridge staying the same temperature week after week while you opened and closed it. Then you’d start to wonder if it was powered by some technology beyond your comprehension. But pretty soon you’d notice something else about this refrigerator. The fact that it never runs out of food. Then you’d start to wonder if somehow it didn’t get restocked while you slept. But you’d realize that it replenished itself all the time, not just while you were sleeping. All this time, you’d keep eating from it. It would keep you alive out here in the middle of nowhere. And because of its mystery you’d begin to hate and fear it, and yet still it would feed you. Even though you couldn’t explain it, you’d still need it. And you’d assume that you simply didn’t understand the technology, rather than ascribe to it some kind of metaphysical power. You wouldn’t place your faith in the hands of some unknowable god. You’d place it in the technology itself. Finally, in frustration, you’d come to realize you’d exhausted your rationality and the only sensible thing to do would be to praise the mystery. You’d worship its bottles of Corona and jars of pickled beets. You’d make up prayers to the meats drawer and sing about its light bulb. And you’d start to accept the mystery as the one undeniable thing about it. That, or you’d grow so frustrated you’d push it off this cliff.”

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