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Nick Mamatas: Move Under Ground

Discussion in 'Fiction Books' started by beer good, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Currently Reading:
    "NW", Smith
    So I just finished this a few minutes ago.

    At first, that sounds what in fanfic circles is apparently known as "crack": an idea, a pairing, a crossover so absolutely ludicrous it's too weird and too much fun NOT to read. Like Winnie the Pooh fighting vampires in Sunnydale, or Mohammad on The Cosby Show.

    But actually, it makes sense, in a somewhat twisted sort of way. The story is narrated by Jack Kerouac in something that... well, it's been a while since I read On The Road (in Swedish), so I really can't say whether Mamatas apes Kerouac or parodies him, but the prose flows in a jazzy, half-crazy manner that's often a delight to read. And somehow Mamatas manages to marry the beatnik counter-culture thing via Burroughs' bugmen and mugwumps to the huge, impersonal monsters of Lovecraft - or rather, not the monsters themselves but the underlying theme of an ancient, evil world looming just below the surface, the futility of mankind in a world where evil gods can snuff us out without hardly noticing us.
    Once you're exposed to Lovecraft's monsters, you go mad; somehow this ties in nicely with Kerouac's buddhist leanings and a general anti-consumerist non-conformist spin.
    Mamatas acknowledges two of the 20th centuries greatest myth-makers - both Lovecraft and Kerouac created (or were credited with creating) genres, worlds of their own, and as such he lets them create yet a new (or possibly) old world here. He does let his fanboy tendencies get the better of him once or twice, and at times he seems more interested in just putting a somewhat more Burroughsian spin on On The Road than telling a story of his own. But in the end, he does manage to weld it all together - if not seamlessly - and creates a really fun read. I'd say 3/5, possibly 4/5 if you're a big fan of K or L. Because at its heart, it is fanfic, even if it is fairly original.

    EDIT: CRAP. Managed to post two threads. Could some kind mod delete the older one?
  2. mrkgnao

    mrkgnao New Member

    Feb 17, 2006
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    Currently Reading:
    Mike Carey: The devil you know
    Another review

    In the 1950s, America belonged to Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs. In the 1960s, it’s been taken over by soulless, mindless squares. Them, and/or the beetleman minions of Dread Cthulhu, awake now to devour the world. Interpretation open. “The more straitlaced a person is … the deeper they bow to the Dark Dreamer.” “Only Beats and grifters and bums and junkys are immune to the Call.”

    R’lyeh has risen and it’s up to the Dharma bums to save the world. Jack Kerouac, wannabe Buddhist, trying to save the world of desires, thereby risking his own soul – who is the hero in that story? (The method, however, is: do the absurd thing.) Among the antiheroes anyway, besides Jack with Neal and Bill, there are also cameos by e. g. Allen Ginsburg, Nelson Algren and the ghost of Charlie Parker.

    Nick Mamatas read rolls and rolls of his favourite authors, ate a lot of anchovies and went to bed with lots of writing material on the bedside table. Good for him. Good read.

    Music suggestion: bebop

    4/5. And I'm a fan of K, not L so much (and if I am, it's only for what's come after him himself). It's been a while since I read On the road but now I've gone and ordered The Dharma bums. When I get a chance to read it is another story.


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