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Random Acts of Senseless Violence (Jack Womack) [Paperback]

Jack Womack
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 1995 Jack Womack
With his vivid, stylized prose, cyberpunk intensity, and seemingly limitless imagination, Jack Womack has been compared to both William Gibson and Kurt Vonnegut. Random Acts of Senseless Violence, Womack's fifth novel, is a thrilling, hysterical, and eerily disturbing piece of work. Lola Hart is an ordinary twelve-year-old girl. She comes from a comfortable family, attends an exclusive private school, loves her friends Lori and Katherine, teases her sister Boob. But in the increasingly troubled city where she lives (a near-future Manhattan) she is a dying breed. Riots, fire, TB outbreaks, roaming gangs, and civil unrest threaten her way of life, as well as the very fabric of New York City. In her diary, Lola chronicles the changes she and her family make as they attempt to adjust to a city, and a country, that is spinning out of control. Her mother is a teacher, but no one is hiring. Her father is a writer, but no one is buying his scripts. Hounded by creditors and forced to vacate their apartment and move to Harlem, her family, and her life, begins to dissolve. Increasingly estranged from her privileged school friends, Lola soon makes new ones: Iz, Jude, and Weezie--wise veterans of the street.


Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st Grove Press Pbk. Ed edition (1 Sep 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802134246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134240
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,073,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book Description

A startling post-cyberpunk thriller from the PHILIP K. DICK AWARD-winning author of ELVISSEY. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

It’s just a little later than now and Lola Hart is writing her life in a diary. She’s a nice middle-class girl on the verge of her teens who schools at the calm end of town.

A normal, happy, girl.

But in a disintegrating New York she is a dying breed. War is breaking out on Long Island, the army boys are flamethrowing the streets, five Presidents have been assassinated in a year. No one notices any more. Soon Lola and her family must move over to the Lower East side – Loisaida – to the Pit and the new language of violence of the streets.

The metamorphosis of the nice Lola Hart into the new model Lola has begun…

“Simply the coolest writer of his generation…Science fiction just doesn’t come any better than this”
NORTHERN ECHO

“Not since Kurt Vonnegut in his SF prime has there been a talent so iconoclastically sparkling as Womack’s”
MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS

“If you dropped the characters from 'Nueromancer' into Womack’s Manhattan, they’d fall down screaming and have nervous breakdowns”
WILLIAM GIBSON

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Mama says mine is a night mind. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A frighteningly familiar future. 14 Oct 2013
By Behan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written as the journal of an adolescent girl, growing up in a near-future Manhattan, this book will not appeal to some readers, purely because of its form. Worse, Lola Hart names her diary after Anne Frank so early in the proceedings, that a hard sci-fi fan with a low tolerance for literary pretension might be unable to still his rolling eyes and read to the finish, but I urge you to persevere with this ultimately rewarding tale.

Plotwise, imagine Flowers For Algernon in reverse; a bright and resourceful girl is transformed into a more open-minded, but less confident, less articulate hoodlum as she becomes increasingly governed by her hot temper and sense of abandonment. In contrast to Charlie in "...Algernon", the forces that govern this change are the external ones, and Lola is less altered by puberty and burgeoning sexuality than she is by the Random Acts that are inflicted on her. The cruellest blows are dealt from the unlikeliest of angles; New York is becoming a police state and world order is crumbling, but the everyday miseries of school bullying, wage slavery and poor health do the most to accelerate Lola's decline. As in "...Algernon", we listen in to Lola's thoughts throughout and notice her change before she does, altering her voice and then her principles in increments, towards an inevitable conclusion.

This is by turns, a witty and chilling satire: all that a sensitive liberal fears for the modern world has come to pass.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding 22 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The best Womack book, this is the diary written by a 12-year-old middle-upper-class girl up since the world economy collapses. You're lead through her family's economic downfall and her psychological reactions in an undoubtedly exaggerated but nonetheless believable world. The girl herself is a great character, a true survivor, while the author achieves success in writing about hell in a dispassionate manner. I'd recommend it strongly to anyone who is a little pessimistic about the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly different dystopian tale 7 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Womack's story of a near future world on the brink of disaster is cleverly told through the pages of a 12 year old school girl's diary. Covering just a few months Lola tells of the changes she experiences in her home town Manhattan, having to move from her comfortable middle class suburban apartment to a rough part of the city and being shunned by her classmates for her assumed lesbian proclivity Lola is the only one of her family who does what she needs to do to survive - she adapts. Her younger sister, whom we know used to be close to her sister, becomes more and more unable to cope fearing not only the changing world outside but also her own sister. Lola's x-hippie style parents; a kind and loving but self-medicating mother and a father who now has to work long hours at a local bookstore for a merciless tyrant, have, we are told, not been good with money and it is hinted they may be partially to blame for the denuded circumstances that the Hart family find themselves in. The apparent acceptance and weakness of the other family members serves to enhance Lola's strength, as she makes new friends within the rough 'street' neighbourhood and learns that things are not going to go back to how they are anytime soon. The use of the diary form enables us to view the action in the past tense but also gives us access to Lola's true feelings and fears and reminds us that she is a 12 year old girl, something which it is easy to forget as you hear how she spends her days with little parental supervision and often in situations where her safety is threatened as the society around her descends into chaos and anarchy. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to read somthing a little different! 8 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
What a ride. This is the first of his books I have read and it has been a while since I read something with a unique enough edge to make it enjoyable. The story follows the downhill slide of a 12 year old girl in near future New York, and is written as if it where the girls diary. Intelligently written and you become easily convinced you have stumbled on a childs diary.
Impressive stuff and worth a read
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4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read 6 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Makes you think - breakdown of society for reasons that are not clear as seen by young teenage girl. The change in her thinking and feeling as circumstances change is fascinating and well created but characters are a little one-dimensional and although the story was surprisingly convincing, I felt the ending was a bit predictable and a bit of an anticlimax - the real interest is in the change from conventional security to survival mode and how simple and straightforward that can seem. That part is written brilliantly but I think the author was not sure where to take it then.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Diary of the doomed and destitute 22 May 2014
By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is another great addition to the sci fi masterworks, although it sort of reads more like brutal realist literature to be honest, the themes dealt with include urban decay, class struggles, racial tensions and social crisis and it is all told from the first person perspective of a twelve year old white girl who has received a diary for her birthday.

I was reminded of another sci fi masteworks when reading this Flowers for Algernon while reading this because the narrative style is similar, it is a diary format, driven along by the protagonist and charting a change in their character as it does so. Only while Flowers of Algernon's protagonist develops from learning disabled to genius and back again the protagonist in Random Acts of Senseless Violence develops from middle class to a murderous street speaking lumpenproletarian. There are other subplots or story arcs to do with developing sexual identity and self-acceptance which I thought were done well and handled proportionately and also with good characterisation, the author's character doesnt at any point break out into erudite updates much more mature than her chronological age. The descent into street speak is done well too, it can be a little grating and bothered me to read it a little but not so much that I was deterred from reading but it does not occur suddenly and keeps a pace with what I imagine is the transformation of the protagonist's character from what she was to what she is becoming.

I really felt for all of the characters in the book, none of them are one dimensional and the author was pretty unflinching in dealing with what I felt would be logical conclusions or their individual fate.
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