I'm not sure what I expected from this novel. I didn't expect masses of narrative exposition but I found the whole experience akin to watching the home movies of a recent and casual acquaintance or skimming through their photo-album, mildly interesting but ultimately not leaving much of an impression.
Almost without exception, I was unable to engage with the hurriedly sketched characters who lacked depth. By the time I waded through 'The Conductor' I couldn't have cared-less if the two drunkards had arrived back at 'Dedo's' home to find his amazon of a wife in bed with 'Officer Johnson'. The only story which aroused any empathy within me was 'The Bees, Part 1'; Hemon seems here to reach into his heritage to give a more solid characterisation of his father and his family, the beekeeping detail adds a further element of reality to his storytelling, one can only hope that he continues to do so in future works.
I found his somewhat incongruous use of language to be a jarring distraction and can only surmise that this is a stylistic conceit which he will hopefully abandon.
Although the cover blurb quotes Patrick McGrath: 'An original who owes no debts to anyone',throughout the book I sensed the influence (rightly or wrongly) of Richard Brautigan and Jack Kerouac.
Unfortunately, this book did not work for me, if writing is like baking a cake all the ingredients were there, however, between the mixing and taking from the oven something happened to leave the cake flat.
Richard BrautiganA Confederate General from Big Sur / Dreaming of Babylon / the Hawkline Monster: Three Books in the Manner of Their Original Editions
Jack KerouacBig Sur (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)