Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rob Recommends The Zero, by Jess Walter

Meet Brian Remy. Brian was a cop, a first responder at 9/11. For all the world, he seemed to have come away from Ground Zero intact. But he’s not quite alright. First, there are the flashes and floaters in his eyes. And then there’s the apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. More problematic though are his memory lapses. At random times at random intervals, he loses his memory—not all of it, but enough so that he rarely knows what he’s supposed to be doing at the moment. Remy finds himself reassigned to a special unit charged with reconstructing the universe of paper destroyed in the Towers’ collapse. His role is to help track down a possible terrorist whose name appeared on a scrap of paper salvaged from the explosion. The reader is ushered into a Kafkaesque world in which the bureaucracy—peopled by superiors, subordinates and fellow cops who mistake his memory lapses for genius or humor—chugs along in a disconnected post 9/11 reality of its own. The author manages to inject just enough black humor, social satire and hilarious dialog which, when added to the surreal setting, makes for an absorbing, edgy take on September the Eleventh.

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