Friday, November 13, 2009

Life in 2078: Dropping Off the Kids at Robert Downey, Jr. Junior High

St. Mark's Bookshop actually has a new novel for sale, by...none other than the one and only Tama Janowitz, the brilliant and under-rated satirist whose scathing parodies of contemporary US life can be found in works like A Certain Age, Peyton Amberg, Area Code (212), and The Male Cross-Dressers' Support Group.

Who knew? Not Americans, who have been steadily deprived of Janowitz's inimitable brand of parody ever since her US publishers abandoned her withering, scorched-earth satire in favor of more easily digestible writers like Curtis Sittenfeld and Rachel Ray and...Dan Brown. Would you ever read a book written by someone named Dan Brown?

Janowitz's surprisingly hefty new novel is called  They is Us, and UK critics are describing it as a kind of cross between Michel Houellebecq and Douglas Coupland.

Thank god British readers haven't let apathy and Philistinism completely subsume their commercial publishing model---Janowitz's latest novel, as well as re-issued editions of her earlier works are selling like crazy in England, where they're being properly promoted.

SAVAGENYC hasn't read it just yet, because we're hoping to get a free media copy,or at least be able to check it out from the Brooklyn Public Library. In any case, the reviews from the UK are pretty damn good----which is a nice thumb in the eye for the banal, insipid US media companies who refused to publish, this, her most ambitious work in years.

The holding-up of the mirror begins in New Jersey, a promising hunting ground for a dystopia. We're in the not-so-distant future, a time when Gwen Stefani and Busta Rhymes are considered early-modern classical music. The dystopic bit is neatly summarised in a map of the US drawn by Julie Fockinoff, a student at Robert Downey Jr. Junior High, and a member of the wearily dysfunctional and slightly mutated family upon which the book is centred.

read the complete review here