Nanno Mulder asked:
There are a lot of absurdities in this book: the colonialistic view of Africa, the simplistic approach on Alzheimer, the incomprehensible asylum chapters, the secret service scenes in the woods. Is this use of the absurd an instrument in the composition ? How do four or five star reviewers handle them?
Clarice Stasz This book is full of irony, a critique of what you mention. For example, Harry and Nate both wonder about their role in helping the village, the fact of colonialism. In light of what we know about the surveillence industry, that episode is not unbelieveable. Look at all the TV shows that do the same, and not always with a critical eye. As for Alzheimer's, I know from volunteering that both increased activity and exposure to movement can brighten patients lives. Also, some of these people have been misdiagnosed or overdrugged.
Saige The writing is dazzling and the story - with its focus on Nixon seems to parody itself. The style has a strong foundation in the provocative 'new (now old and lost) journalism' of Hunter S. Thompson and I find myself pausing for breath in these episodes of reality and unreality bites. I found the vignette where the narrator is imprisoned by youths trapped by a material world both poignant and disturbing - a brilliant piece in itself. At times I felt I was reading the Gadsby of our age but this sense lessened towards the last third of the book when the author's optimism displaced realistic alternatives. The money streamed on almost endlessly and I felt conned by the ending, the thankful thanksgiving - the good people who can consume gratefully because they live on a seemingly endless pile of cash and fortune. Such fragile worlds do exist but unfortunately those who shape them rarely encounter the insight injected into the narrator by the author. The universal truths in this book are suspended by the garters of symbol bearing white upper middle class North Americans who have more dimensions than the cardboard cut out Africans and Asians they seek to save.