Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Failure by James Greer

THE FAILURE's narrative revolves around a single event: Guy Forget and his best friend Billy totally botch a robbery at a Korean check-cashing joint in order to fund a prototype of a cyberpunk-esque program that transmits untraceable, "subsensory" advertisements through websites.



Guy is young, carefree, handsome, mired in slackerdom, and determined to get rich with as little effort as possible. He seems confident in his grandiose schemes to hit it big, but even in his ardent optimism there is a sense that success, however one defines it, is futile. Guy values any journey that will take him out of the mundane, and this escape towards some higher, undefinable plane of existence is a central theme interrogated by each of the characters in the novel. Guy is resigned to the "power of suck"—you'll get the reference after you read the book—but he never descends into outright nihilism.

Greer spins an engaging and deeply funny yarn about betrayal and life as ephemera, slipping in a number of pop and sub-pop references, high-tech lingo, absurd side stories, and dry humor. A rotating cast of characters accompanies Guy on his journey toward eventual doom—Guy's secretive girlfriend named Violet, his self-deprecating physicist brother Marcus, his parents bound to their Middle American sensibilities, and a jealous villain with a Napoleonic complex set out to destroy him. These characters aren't afraid to philosophize, and each is given their own soliloquy for their assorted miseries and existential banter.

Los Angeles serves as a backdrop for the drama, with all its contradictions and excesses on display. Greer's nonlinear prose comes on fast without being overwhelming, much like the rhythms of the city itself, and the story is punctuated with striking insights into human fragility.

To see more information about THE FAILURE click here


This post written by Akashic Books star intern Jason Huettner!

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