Boyd's Reviews > Things We Didn't See Coming

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam
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's review
Oct 16, 2010

really liked it

I'm not sure what makes this little Book of Nightmares a story collection rather a novel, other than the fact its author says so. There's nothing particularly discrete about its subsections, and I can't see any one of them standing up all that well on its own.

But that's a tiny quibble about a very interesting, if uneven, book. The prose is one of its real pleasures: it's economical without being either flat or--like THE ROAD--ostentatiously stark. It's also, and not infrequently, witty, largely through the narrator's matter-of-fact negotiation of each new calamity.

And there are plenty of those. Several biblical standbys--drought, flood, pestilence, etc.--make an appearance, along with more modern aggravations having to do with the establishment of a new society amid unpromising circumstances. Surprise, surprise, bureaucracy survives the apocalypse in spades: at several points you get a pretty good idea of what it might be like if Franz Kafka ran the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The author is able to keep overheated dystopia-speak at bay for the greater part of the book, and if he slips up toward the end, well, what the hell? It's his first book. And I did learn something from it that may come in handy at some point in the future: a cooked rat will feed two people, but not necessarily three.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Boyd, your review made me laugh out loud.

message 2: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie M . . like if Franz Kafka ran the DMV . . FUNNY.

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