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Friday, April 23, 2010

Big Machine by Victor LaValle


Big Machine by Victor LaValle

This was an interesting book. I think he might have been going for a little Dean Koontz. Black,survivor of a murderous cult, recovering heroin addict, Ricky Rice gets a message to come to a small town in Vermont along with a bus ticket. He falls into a secret society of ex-addicts and petty criminals, all black like him, living in remote Vermont and sifting through stacks of articles in a library devoted to investigating the supernatural; the existence of a god; and the legacy of Judah Washburn, an escaped slave who claimed to have had contact with a higher being. After nearly a year of training by going through the stacks of newspaper looking for the supernatural, he is asked to go with Adele and find Solomon Clay. It seems Solomon Clay has become a betrayer of the cult and has gone to the dark side. Sure enough, Clay has lost his mind and is sending his "disciples" with bombs in their back packs to do suicide bombings. How does Ricky and Adele stop Clay?

"The book is very richly detailed and well crafted. But throughout the book, I kept asking myself "What's he GETTING AT here? This character exposition is interesting, the writing is fun, the dialog is terrific... But what do ALL these various and interesting details MEAN in the larger scheme of things?" For example, what are we to take away from Adele's pre-Washburn torment? How does all the rich description of the washerwomen cult contribute to the overall theme of this book? Are we supposed to draw some sort of parallel between the lights in the hallway of the By The Bay hotel being smashed, and the lights in the stairwell during Ricky's last night with the washerwomen?" -Peter from Mt Vernon, NH on Amazon.com

I couldn't have said it better, Peter. I, too, was left wondering about some of the details and kept thinking I was missing something. I loved the writing and I read every bit of it but it left me with a dissatisfied feeling. It was hard to pin down what he was focusing on.

I do and don't recommend it.

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