Friday, June 25, 2010
Get those critical receptors tuned folks, here's the Transmission guide you've been waiting for.
Actually, I typed the review last night and then in a bolt from the electronic divine my pc crashed and destroyed all traces of it. So here is a more succinct rendering.
It was a less ambitious book than The Impressionist and it seemed as if Kunzru had more confidence for it or perhaps his confidence came across more enjoyably and less like arrogance with regards to the subject matter. Anyhow, the point is, it is a contemporary set novel about a computer geek (I can say that, I'm married to one) who rolls like a ball of liquid lead solder around the circuit board of the novel's plot which takes the reader through the intricacies of computer viruses to Bollywood in an unlikely yet plausibly connected way.
It is funny in places, very funny in some, especially if you know a pc geek (or are married to one) and you recognise the similarities, but all too often it feels like a scene from UK TVs Goodness Gracious Me. I'd be really interested to know what any Indian readers make of this book - let me know guys. Anyway, it's not trying to wow you with its knowledge of neat references to all things Empire and it's a crisper and more acerbic book for it but, yes, there's always one, I wish Kunzru would know when to stop. Time and time again he has a great line or observation but then goes on about it as if to say, did you get that, did you notice it, there, I said that and wasn't it good, no, really, read it again. It's as if he's afraid to be subtle.
If I had read this book first I might have had more sympathy for The Impressionist. Here you recognise the same narrative voice in your ear only it's set to the right tone for the subject matter in Transmission, whereas in The Impressionist it was woefully off key. An enjoyable if not stellar read which hits the right note in the din of geek fiction; literary fiction this aint, but at least Transmission isn't pretending to be (even if the jacket designers try to convince you to the contrary).