Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Big Machine

by Victor D. LaValle

I like when novels are about Big Ideas, but not if the story isn't up to snuff. I remember having mixed feelings about this story's paranormal and redemptive themes. Trying to remember it now puts me in mind of the television show American Horror Story, which is visually cool, has complicated characters, and richly detailed plot lines — but what for? What's my payoff for watching/reading?

I just looked up a summary (probably from the publisher, maybe the book jacket) that calls Big Machine "a fiendishly imaginative comic novel about doubt, faith, and the monsters we carry within us." I do not recall it being funny, but the rest rings true. The protagonist is a former addict and hustler questing for a raison d'ĂȘtre (not the meaning of life, just a meaning for his life).

I expected this book to be more like something by Colson Whitehead (I've read The Intutionist, and I've always meant to read Apex Hides the Hurt), and I got a whiff of Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, but it just wasn't as good. Or I didn't like it as much. Definitely headed in the right direction, but didn't quite take me there.

[Sidebar: Is it a micro-aggression if I only compare him to other Black authors? (Is that capital B another micro-aggression?) Although not entirely successful, in my estimation, this author is aiming to be in the company of Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and other literary luminaries.]

No comments: