Adventures in Reading


Fiction: The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway

“The lights went out in the Nameless Bar just after nine. I was bent over the pool table with one hand in the bald patsch behind the D, which Flynn the Barman claimed was beer, but which was the same size and shape as Mrs. Flynn the Barman’s arse: nigh on a yard in the beam and formed like the cross-section of a cooking apple.”

Nick Harkaway’s work of speculative fiction The Gone Away World at its center is a story of one man’s relationship with his own identity, but it’s Harkaway’s exhilarating digressions that give the reader a post-apocalyptic world with ninjas and mimes. As much of a spoofing adventure as a serious commentary, Harkaway’s novel is a sensational read.

A cross between Jeff Noon and Stephen Chow, The Gone Away World is a thoughtful novel that critiques society and industry, but never stops making you laugh. Harkaway moves effortlessly between serious philosophizing on god and man to slapstick comedy. It took me awhile to get through the first few pages and accustom myself to the narrative style, but I was rewarded with a truly superb book. It’s definitely one I’m foisting on all innocent customers.

Conclusion: Keeper.

P.S. As the unnamed narrator of The Gone Away World suggests, I did put my incisors against a metal doorknob to see if I could “feel vibrations” of anyone lurking (such as secret ninjas) on the other side. Mostly I was just terrified that someone would open the door and knock my teeth out. Word of Warning: Only experiment with this on doors that won’t open towards your mouth.

Other opinions at Necromancy Never Pays.

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8 Comments

So the next step is to get someone you trust *not* to open the door to lurk around the other side of the door, and see if you can feel the difference. :)

I’ve seen this book around and been intrigued, but your review definitely makes it seem worth looking into further.

Comment by fyreflybooks

Would you call it a meditative fiction? The premise sounds very interesting, almost philosophical.

Comment by Matt

I’ll have to come back for this one. I recently received it and it sounds right up my alley–but to see that you think this is a keeper makes me really excited to read it!

Comment by Trish

Um, come back to read your review until after I finish the book…sorry, brain is foggy today.

Comment by Trish

Fyreflybooks: I’m totally going to call a friend over this afternoon for further door experimentations.

Matt: While I am not overly familiar with meditative fiction as a genre, I would certainly agree that parts of The Gone Away World fit into the meditative description.

Trish: I’ll be waiting to read your thoughts on it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Comment by bookchronicle

I picked this up at the library and read the first few pages, didn’t get interested, and then came by your review. So I guess I’ll go back to the next few pages and give it another chance!

Comment by Jeanne

Jeanne: The first few pages (hell, the first paragraph!) are somewhat excruciating, I admit. But once you get through it, the book definitely improves!

Comment by bookchronicle

I love books about identity, so I am definitely excited about starting this soon.

Comment by Lenore




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