found drama

get oblique

Jack London in Paradise

by Rob Friesel

There’s a case to be made here that this is Paul Malmont’s take on e-books/new media and the death of literacy (i.e., a dirge and/or lament of the decay of traditional publishing). If I was writing a full on exegesis, my thesis would probably run something like this:

We have a principal narrator (Hobart Bosworth) who is involved in the “new media” of the time (silent films) who is in effect pestering the great literary mind of his time (Jack London) to snap out of his decline and author a screenplay that will resurrect his (Hobart’s) career. Along the way we explore themes of atavism and domestication (i.e., “civilization”); technology and pastoralism; and (ironically?) socialism-as-individualism and capitalism-as-collectivism.1

Ultimately however, Malmont’s prose can drag a little, and he pulls punches there at the end. There’s a series of terminal reversals (e.g., Hobart’s incapacitating ulcer, London’s own switcheroo with the manuscripts) which I think are supposed to be “twists” but instead just confuse the central theme–namely that technology marches on while trying to honor its predecessors while trying to make its own name for its own self. (Viz., Hobart envies London’s fame and creativity and wishes to combine forces with him, albeit while slapping his own name under the “STARRING” and “DIRECTED BY” banners, thus ensuring his own fame.)

Which doesn’t make it an all together bad or unenjoyable book; just that I can’t recommend this one over The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril.2

  1. Which… well that phrasing isn’t quite right but it is as close as I can think to characterize it. []
  2. Though it was worth the $3 I paid for it–thank you Borders going-out-of-business sale. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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