An Exceptional Novel,
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This review is from: DEFAULT (Kindle Edition)
Default, Anjo Bordell’s debut novel, is a roman-a-clef which fictionalizes, thinly we suspect, his stint in the US Marines and his post-Marine life in Shanghai. The story begins in Shanghai, in the present, in a way you might expect an expat-China-yarn would, but then moves through a series of stateside flashbacks relayed alongside events (in reverse chronological order) that occur in Shanghai in a way you could never predict or imagine. The premise or structure is fairly conventional. But the stories aren’t. Neither is the writing.
I’ve never read anything like Default. It’s so original, I wondered at the writer’s inspirations. Traces of Vonnegut, perhaps? Beyond that, I couldn’t guess. The penmanship is excellent, and the narrative frequently grabs you by the lapels and gives you a good shake. Details which you thought were ornamental return with significance. The plotlines overlap, interact, and collide, and a thousand particles of meaning swim around and smash into each other. Default is comical and dark, and captures the absurdities that can follow us no matter where we go.
I thought this book was exceptional and highly unique. My only reservation was that it was a little long, but I don’t know what could have been cut. Lots of memorable characters here; lots of bizarre and laugh-out-loud moments. Default is a ripping good read, one that belongs on a best-sellers’ list. Five stars.