I've been doing a few reviews for Mark at The Book Depository (and ReadySteadyBook and BritLitBlogs....does he sleep?) of late and getting some unusual books as a result. Mystery parcels arrive which shoot me right out of my comfort zone and I love that.It's so easy to get stuck in a reading rut and nothing like something challenging and different to jolt the reading senses.
I may never have picked up Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta, didn't even tick it off as one to watch out for in the Macmillan catalogue, and that would have been a crying shame because it's been a quietly powerful read that has really made me think hard.Had I had this edition I'd probably have thought even harder because this is a great cover that signposts the book perfectly.
One reviewer suggests this "Eat the Document brilliantly contrasts nascent and mature postmodernity through the lens of culture/counterculture". Well I expect that's exactly right but I thought it was a book about protest.
Set between the 1970's, when you know that Mary and Bobby have turned protest into action that has gone horribly wrong, and the 1990's when you eventually find out how.The consequences for both are a life on the run and the book seamlessly moves between the culture and issues of the 70's and the 90's cleverly connecting the two eras.
The bridge is Mary's son who is besotted with the music of his mother's generation, mostly The Beach Boys with a bit of Dylan and even Kris Kristofferson gets a mention.
What on earth was that film he was in with dear old Babs? We all loved him to bits, Evergreen? What was it about more to the point?
There are some great contrasts between the vehemence of activism then when the Vietnam war protests were at their height and the seeming vacuity of the protest of the 1990's when among the best groups on offer is the Barcode Remixers (everything would ring up at five or ten cents and perhaps Scott Pack should write a book about it?).There's a delicious cynicism about what passes for protest these days with "conceptual direct action groups" that actually never do anything beyond discuss what they might do.
I'm not making Eat the Document sound that interesting but I don't want to give anything away, trust me, it's one of those books that just makes you think and it's well worth the read.