Adman's Reviews > The Revisionists

The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
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's review
Jul 14, 2012

did not like it

couldn't do it. had to abort.

mullen's prose is artless. he lays down awkward metaphor after cliche-ridden character-by-bullet-point after poorly-paced bit of, uh, dialogue.

80 pages in and i had no idea what the main trajectory or stakes of this book were. there are a few writers who earn a pass on this sort of writing but mullen has not achieved any sort of stylistic gold idol/sandbag swap that prevents me from dropping an annihilating boulder on this mother.

instead i bounced between a few forgettable characters (and god, i hate how every person here got such boilerplate a/s/l treatment) carrying on in flat, expository fashion about, well, sadness and pain and tragedy and a vague, unexceptional futurescape. every confrontation with tragedy felt stilted and repetitive, delivered in terms that robbed the subject matter of its dignity and weight. to paraphrase a typical moment: 'i got to see hiroshima. 100,000 people died. i mean, 100,000 people. that is a lot of people. it was hot from the bomb. just, wow. tragedy.' or a running theme: 'it rained, and i relished in it. these people had no idea they were about to lose it. i ate a burger. wow, it tasted good. these people had no idea they were about to lose it. i peed in an actual toilet. wow, golly, have i mentioned that these people are about to lose it?'

when it comes to historical atrocities i don't think the book is exploitative, perhaps respectably earnest but not skillful or well-researched enough. on that note, i get no sense from the writing that mullen has any solid information about anything he's writing about, except perhaps fancy foods eaten by real people living real life (which apparently is shorthand for abstractly-titled, world-traveling professionals who own $500k homes).

i was so prepared to like this book. i was a marinated, tenderized steak of readiness. the premise held so much promise: is it worth all the tragedy in history if we know it results in paradise? unfortunately, if the first fourth of the book is any indicator (i don't rate this as spoilery since i am offering conjecture based on about 20% completion), the very sparse information provided describes a strawman's paradise, set up in jutaxposition to a pedantic notion of Freedom (this book also has too many Capital Words). along with the way history is handled, this simplistic dichotomy ruined my excitement.

let me venture a guess: we ultimately learn the supremacy of running off at the mouth or doing whatever dumb shit you want to do, even if it costs humanity perfection.

dumb. disappointing.

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