Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dave Zeltserman: Pariah

Dave Zeltserman has been getting lots of praise for his novel Pariah that came out earlier this year. All of it is well-deserved. Every bit of it.

Pariah is a novel that's full of violence, some of it very, very grim, but it's never full of crowd-pleasing action, so you don't want to take this to bed as a good night read with which to lull yourself to sleep. The narrator is seriously narcissistic and full of himself, yet he's not actually delusional, like protagonists of, say, Jim Thompson or Jason Starr. This gives the story even more edginess. Zeltserman creates a character a reader won't like or sympathize with, but his is the only view we are ever getting and we just have to get along with it. This makes the book very scary. The last lines of the book left me jittering.

The book is not only a crime novel. It's also a satire of book business, with the protagonist of the book, life-long career criminal Kyle Nevin, getting to be a famous writer with a huge advance for his novel.

There's one thing that seems a bit implausible to me - the point where Kyle Nevin's luck suddenly turns sour, after his book has turned out to be an international bestseller -, but this must be due to my Finnish and European perspective. Writers simply are not that big here and the accusations against them are not that important. But then again, USA is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

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