in the last year, i spent a month doing nothing but staring at computer monitors. i spent nine intolerable months plotting the destruction of the very thing i valued most in my life (which was not a computer monitor). and i spent most of my nights in clumsy chase of questions i couldn't ask. i also did some ordinary things, like drive my ford, make soup, and write stupid stuff on the internet. there was enough existential angst in that year to people a squabbling troop of teenagers, enough relationship madness to secure a plot line on days of our lives.
but i don't think my year would have made a good novel, unless, that is, someone like victor lavalle got a hold of my story.
lavalle's big machine is the kind of novel that blends emotional depth and ordinary life with the absurd. he takes a troubled character--an andrew, if you will--and bends him around a series of ever-more shocking circumstances. imagine haruki murakami's the wind-up bird chronicle without the strange sexual fixations and with a more tangible sense of personhood and culture--lavalle's story consciously focuses on particular racial and economic groups (and the protagonist, in his cleverness and humble beginnings, and perhaps, i'll admit it, his non-whiteness, actually reminds me of the narrator of aravind adiga's the white tiger).
big machine is a novel that confronts some of the whys, whats, and hows of my 2010. and in doing so, it sidles right up to the darkness and says, have faith.
i'm leaning toward a 13/17 rating, which makes big machine a 17 point scale-recommended title, unless you prefer to avoid titles with profanity, fantastical events, and almost-too-perfect chapter-ending cliff-hangers.
you can purchase big machine here.