Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kirkus Reviews on Alan DeNiro's forthcoming TOTAL OBLIVION, MORE OR LESS

Alan DeNiro's editor (who just stuffed me full of excellent Cuban food) passed along this great review of Alan's forthcoming debut novel TOTAL OBLIVION, MORE OR LESS. (You will, of course, ignore Kirkus's obligatory snarky final half-sentence, because it just wouldn't be Kirkus Reviews if they didn't say one mean thing about every book.)
by Alan DeNiro (on sale November 24, 2009)

After Minnesota is overrun by ancient Scythians and a wasp-borne plague, 16-year-old Macy and her family embark on adventures of ever-escalating weirdness as they make their way down the Mississippi toward safety that no longer exists.

DeNiro (stories: Skinny-Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, 2006) opens his debut novel in semi-comic register, as the family struggles to adjust to a weird new order involving soldier-looters in Lakers jerseys, the shuttering of all non–fast-food businesses, SUV chassis towed by mules and a scar-faced guard at the family's riverside internment camp who sends Macy a looted necklace via her younger brother Ciaran. "I had a disfigured stalker with a sword," she wisecracks. "This made going stag to junior prom look like a joke." The mood grows steadily darker and grimmer. First Ciaran gets involved in intrigues among factions of the anachronistic warriors who have overrun the entire country and are battling for turf from coast to coast. The family manages to escape on a boat that limps south toward St. Louis, where Macy's father, an astronomer, keeps insisting that a university job awaits him. Along the way both Macy and her mother are stricken with the plague; Macy's sister runs off and is sold into indenture; they encounter elephants and giraffes, a wooden submarine and a talking dog. Eventually Ciaran is captured and sent south to Nueva Roma for trial and execution. Their father, now thriving in the former St. Louis as an astrologer, dispatches the recovered Macy to the grand delta capital to see if anything can be done to help her brother.

A fast-paced, suspenseful dystopian picaresque, part Huck Finn and part bizarro-world Swiss Family Robinson, with the latter winning out—to the benefit of those reading for plot and perhaps the disappointment of those looking for literary ambition.


David said...

That last half sentence is utterly silly and annoying, but I've noticed that Kirkus reviews have to add something like that.

Haddayr said...

The last sentence is especially silly and annoying considering that this is Alan DeNiro, for god sakes. The man is fucking LITERARY. Sheesh.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Say, out of curiosity, what kind of dog is that on the cover?

clindsay said...

Lisa -

That would be a TALKING dog, actually.


Lisa Iriarte said...

Hee hee :). Well, yes, I read the description with the talking dog, which intrigues me. However, the silhouette looks a bit like a Basenji which is the breed of dog I had growing up, so I was wondering.


Alan DeNiro said...

Lisa, I had told the art director to follow the description that was in the book, I believe (or that ws what they were going off of). The silhouette looks, strangely enough, like our own dog (a Carolina Dog/American dingo), even though in the book I had seen Xerxes to be a little...mangier.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Cool! Thanks for the info. Yep, I can see that breed in there.