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Diary of the doomed and destitute,
This review is from: Random Acts of Senseless Violence (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (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. Its possible to draw out considerations of how the social attitudes of each of them had been formed or their responses to events as they unfolded. Interesting, to me at least, was the extent to which some of the attitudes of those who were already on the bottom of the social hierarchy resembled those who clearly were not, their relationships may still have been one of exploitation by the corporate overlords but they shared a world view, that was clear, it also worked to their advantage as I believe it would.
This was reflected in the behaviour which gives the novel its title, while from the perspective of the injured party, our protagonist, and the character most "displaced" by events, their behaviour was perfectly logical (and I would suggest a consequence of the class struggles going on around them even if they wouldnt know to call it what it was) from that of their friends it wasnt. Its possible to speculate that the friends took what had happened to the protagonist and their family as "just one of those things" which they'd been experiencing all along and expected, run of the mill, not an affront warranting avenging violence.
Other people have commented already upon how this supposedly dystopian novel does resemble the world today, I think that can be an exaggeration, it reflects parts of the world I'm sure and possibly something more perrenial, the "bad parts of town" and unsympathetic social divisions have always existed in one shape or another. One thing I will say is that this author does a great job of bringing it into print. The mix of doomed innocent and menaced experience is compelling to read. Recommended.