Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Review: Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem

Howdy, readers. Today I got a special treat for y'all. Well, depends on your definetion of a treat, but there it is. My sister, Erika, who has her own reviewing/ranting blog called Four of Them (a reference to the excellent The Book Thief). Today, I caught a peek of her reading another Jon Lethem novel, and this time it was post-apocalyptic. Instead of being a good, giving person and let me read it, she decided she would write a guest review instead. So, here goes.

Title: Amnesia Moon

Author: Jonathon Lethem

Pages: 247

Received from: store


In Jonathan Lethem's wryly funny second novel, we meet a young man named Chaos, who's living in a movie theater in post-apocalyptic Wyoming, drinking alcohol, and eating food out of cans.

It's an unusual and at times unbearable existence, but Chaos soon discovers that his post-nuclear reality may have no connection to the truth. So he takes to the road with a girl named Melinda in order to find answers. As the pair travels through the United States they find that, while each town has been affected differently by the mysterious source of the apocalypse, none of the people they meet can fill in their incomplete memories or answer their questions. Gradually, figures from Chaos's past, including some who appear only under the influence of intravenously administered drugs, make Chaos remember some of his forgotten life as a man named Moon.

As previously mentioned, it's either review this book for darling Danielle, or let her read it. Seeing as how she still has my Thursday Next book, and I'm not a fucking library, I just decided to waste my Sunday morning here, on the couch she vegetates on. Also, time for shameless self-advertisement!

The summary above, as usual, doesn't really do the novel any justice. Then again, I doubt any summary would. Apparently, it's a combination of several post-apocalyptic stories Lethem wrote, and it shows. Originally, it's about a young man named Chaos, who lives in a multiplex and binge-drinks undiluted alcohol all day, in a town called Hartford apparently in ruins from a nuclear war, where nobody remembers when things changed, and nobody remembers their original selves. The atypical post-apocalyptic town is run by Kellog, the last fat man who controls everyone by infiltrating their dreams. He insists that he and Chaos had once been partners in crime, and that he, too, was a Dreamer. After a squirmish with Kellog in his home base of the neighboring Little America, Chaos flees with a young mutant girl, Melinda, who's covered in fur, to the open road of the desolute former US.

Both Lethem and Chaos quickly abandon this premise. As he a Melinda drive on, Chaos continues to dream. He has escaped Kellog's, but now Melinda latches onto his. The rest of the story, I could only barely explain. They jump from town to town, each affected by the disaster in different ways. One town is covered in a depthless green fog, but for an exclusive private school. Another is ruled by a government system based entirely on luck, where people move every three days and worship the 'government stars' on TV. And nobody can seem to agree on what, exactly, the disaster was.

I was so confused, reading this. Everything was so coated in mystery, the narration is, for the most part, from the point of view of Chaos, then Everett, who is Chaos when he is slightly more lucid. First he is trying to remember who he was, then he is trying to find out what happened to his friend and girlfriend, then I don't know what. Read it, and you'll know what I mean. It's well-written, and funny, and the most creative end-of-the-world story I've ever heard of, but if you're looking for a beginningmiddleend story, avoid it at all costs. If, hoever, you're not particularly picky, and like multiple interpretations (aliens!), then read it. I maintain that this is one of Lethem's better books, just behind Fortress of Solitude.

Rating: 8 out of 10


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