Tuesday, October 18, 2016

He's dead, Jim

First, excitement at blowing dust off a relic, but before long, a cold, harsh reality settles in.  It's always a tragedy when a 2nd novel reads like it's a 1st novel.  

For all the good stuff in The Colonists, there is too much dreck. The story is full of incidents and sitcom-like happy coincidence. There's no plot.  The bikini barista obsessed with peak oil turns into a brochure for the issue.  Peak oil talking points sound like talking points rather than dialogue.

I might pick choice pieces off the corpse and put them somewhere else.  I might go crazy and rewrite most of it and try and put it in some kind of working order.  But probably not. In consideration of near-50 chapters and 100,000+ words only bare bits hold up under the cruel light of objectivity:  

Every chain died a death.  Sears was dying.  When he was a kid, he could remember getting Christmas catalogues.  Poring over the toy section.  Not only Sears, but JCPenney’s and Montgomery Ward.  He wasn’t sure if either one of those other chains still operated.  Trina said when the price of fuel hit a certain point the business model Walmart followed would fall apart.  If importing the cheap plastic shit cost more than what the retail side was pouring in, the plug would be pulled.  Someday it would happen.  
He tried to imagine the parking lot, desolate, cracked, weeds burst up through the black asphalt.  A dark dust coating the insides of the mammoth store space.  The shelves emptied, maybe no shelves at all, or the shelving units still in place, sticking out like vertebrae within the torso of a long extinct beast which finally couldn’t keep pace with change.  The cash registers, the emptied tills, the weekly entertainment rags still on display, but soiled, tales of plastic surgeries and weird sex and the weight loss tips, common concerns belonging to another era, another species almost.  And all the mess inside, remnants of the ramble of humanity trying to stock up, store up quickly given the slow motion calamity finally broke into the consciousness, no longer a 'what if?' scenario brushed to the side by the three engines of deceit - the media, the government, and wanton consumer need. 
It was hard to pinpoint when the worst times would be.  The actual starving and murdering and dying or the recovery over the course of hundreds of years, the new normal unlike anything most could conceive.  Trina had said that as calamity came down, people had a switch they flipped that allowed them to deny the very basic facts looming ahead of them.
Stan had done that.  Losing the job.  Heather halting the marriage not even a year in. A sliver of self admitted something unpleasant was occurring.  A fattier portion of self denied reality, petitioned like a motherfucker for fabrication.  At the last moment, his job would continue.  Heather would hit the big green go-button and they’d keep on the path to wedded bliss.  And at some point, that ignorant, self-blinding sort of self vanished, popped like a balloon, and reality settled in with that distinct dry sandpaper touch. 

No comments:

Post a Comment