Grady's Reviews > Off the Grid: The Catalyst

Off the Grid by Brian  Courtney
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it was amazing

`Pan was passionate about life and disgusted by it in the same breath; he is seething hatred and undying love.'

Brian Courtney is a new author - and more than that we know very little. No biographical data is offered to gain insight into him or his reason for writing this novel, but it doesn't take long into this verbiage to figure out that this is a modern day Catcher in the Rye or some other predecessor that walks that thin thread of accepting society (aka The Institution) in all its gruesome status or stepping off the grid into a world of excesses or at least one that is malleable to one's own needs to be an acceptable place - or not....

Brian creates Pan (not unlike the goateed mythological figure allied with carnal excess - good and evil, attractive and disgusting, loyal and vengeful) - and the brief synopsis tells us why: `A man without a name who called himself Pan wanted something more, something better. For as long as he could remember, something or someone was gnawing at him, calling him, draining him, making him hungry, making him strive for more, more of everything. Living the life and pursuing the happiness, Pan lived the "American Dream". Like so many cheerleaders, Pan worked hard to climb the ladder and he bought almost everything that "they" sold. Avoiding the questions and numbing the pain, Pan turned to drink and did drugs, he listened to loud music and had meaningless sex. He was a true consumer and a glutton until all the hedonism and all the materialism could no longer fill the void and help fulfill his life, his liberty and his pursuit of happiness. The sports cars and white picket fences of the picturesque dream were now blurry and misshapen. His dream was shattered and the cracks revealed. Now he waits and watches and fears for the future that he knows is so near. Living in the shadows and preparing for tomorrow, he hopes that he is wrong, but knows that he is right.'

Brian's way with words climbs inside this alternative mind and makes us understand Pan a bit better: `The unremembered dreams, distorted images and vague flickers of light and dark had cursed him all of his sleeping life. He never knew why and couldn't ever recall who or what was haunting him. While he was awake a different nightmare occurred, living. Between the dreams at night and life in general he was an insomniac. Bouts of depression, problems with authority, distrust of everyone, extreme cynicism and an eternal question to which there was most likely no answer were his curses. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Like so many people he was dissatisfied. Unlike most he chose to go against the grain. Schools tried to condition him with a single way to do things, churches tried to cleanse him, shrinks tried to drug him, police tried to beat him, but they were all ultimately trying to conform him. He always asked "Why?" to everyone about everything. The first response was always, `Because I said so. That's why." His preachers, teachers, cops, and judges all answered this way. Regardless of who gave the answer, simply agreeing was never his forte. He was never intimidated by authority, despite how real it actually was, so a second "why" always followed. Their response was usually an unknown look of confusion with the befuddled, stuttering utterance, "Wha, wha what do you mean?" which was always prior to a blank stare and then followed by some more bullshit. Any answer he received was rarely complete or accurate, and never to his satisfaction. He was on his own, the sole searcher, searching for his soul, for his place, for his duty.'

Brian also tosses some arrows at contemporary society: ``It doesn't matter if you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Native American, Hindu or Buddhist. It is the words of a man, not a God or a spirit telling you how to live. Pan decided the fear of God and the rewards given by a God were just control mechanisms designed to guide people on how to act within society. No matter which religion you choose they tell stories about great rewards and horrendous punishments. Do this or else. Do this and...Heaven or Hell was never a question in Pan's mind. He always figured that if there were actually an afterlife then he was most likely going to burn for eternity.'

So here we have the life (or a segment of one, suggesting we may see further development following this book's release) written by a contemporary philosopher cum writer who has a lot to say, creates some very raw language eminently suitable to Pan, and leads us down a trail of life as it is and as it could be. For a first novel this is an important work. Where he goes from here is almost as fascinating a conjecture as the one that Pan poses throughout this new book!
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 22, 2015 – Shelved

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Sounds interesting. It must be to deserve such a long and detailed review.

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