Posts Tagged ‘Matt Ruff’

‘The Mirage’ by Matt Ruff

January 20, 2014

This novel I definitely recommend (except if you’re George W. Bush or Dick Cheney, which I doubt). I mean, who could resist a back-cover text that starts like this?:

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers. The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. … [And it goes on and gets even more interesting; look it up somewhere where they sell books.]

I couldn’t resist, and this once I wasn’t disappointed, quite the contrary (at least with movies, I am no stranger to disappointment, e.g., The Hobbit 2, The Counselor [‘The Desolation of Scott’?]). The 11/9 attacks are not the topic but rather the background for this alternate reality novel, where an ‘Arab Homeland Security’ agent investigates stories told by captured failed suicide-bombers (Christian ones) that the reality they know is just a ‘mirage’ that has somehow replaced the real reality. So, the book also has elements of a crime novel, and of a political thriller. It is very well written, very entertaining, gripping and thrilling (I’d like to introduce ‘thripping’ as an English equivalent to the German ‘spannend’, but it seems like that word already has another definition: — but really that should be ‘thritting’!). It’s funny also, in places, if I remember correctly (I’ve been moving on already: Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam and now Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge — don’t you agree it’s high time for him to get the Nobel Prize for Literature? I, for one, do agree).

It also seems to me that Matt Ruff cherishes good typography (remember the funny format of Bad Monkeys?) — or maybe that’s the publisher, HarperCollins/Harper Perennial?? (Makes me start reminiscing about the Alfred A. Knopf Borzoi Books I have, but I meander around too much already, so let’s stop getting started.)

I think I enjoyed Ruff’s early books, Fool on the Hill and Sewer, Gas & Electric, but not as much by far as the later ones (including this one): Set This House in Order and the already-mentioned Bad Monkeys. I recommend the latter two, too, to you. (Maybe I should read the former two in the original English; maybe I’d like them more then.)