Hystopia Hardcover – 26 May 2016
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Hystopia is a thrilling novel - daring, immensely readable and also unexpectedly funny. David Means is that lucky (and brilliant) writer: a man in full possession of a vision. (Richard Ford)
Brilliant. Nothing but. Hystopia goes straight to the heart of the American darkness, that most strange and twisted place where our wars, those perfect storms of high-tech mayhem and idiot blunder, cohabit with what we love to advertise as our virtue, our freedoms, our God-blessed mission to save the world. David Means's extraordinary book bends history-to paraphrase one of the novel's characters-no less violently than we've bent ourselves with our non-stop warmaking of the past fifty years. (Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk)
Brilliant . . . the writing is beautiful and exuberant, moving and funny, and always one step ahead. The descriptions of getting stoned are as vivid as the landscapes. Means's characters live in a state of constant sensory attention that keeps them always attuned to the texture of tar, the smell of lakes and trees, the taste of carbon (Christine Smallwood Harper's)
A riveting, hypnotic dystopia of Vietnam combat veterans during the (fictional) second JFK administration. Amazing writing-not for the faint of heart. Nuggets of beauty glowing in a pan of pain. (Jonathan Shay, author of Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America)
Means' work is precise, relentless, unsentimental, an art of missed opportunities and missed connections, tracing, more than anything, the inevitability of loss. These same themes mark his first novel but in a manner we haven't seen before. It's not just the difference between long and short, although one of the pleasures of this dark and complex work is to see Means stretch out. Even more, however, it's the novel's manic energy, its mix of realism and satire... this is not a traditional narrative. Rather, it offers a mélange of reference points-Starkweather, John Kennedy Toole (the novel is constructed as a book within a book, written by a suicide), and even, with its editor's notes and contextual material, Nabokov-set in a world that has unraveled in its own apocalyptic way... Means' first novel is a compelling portrait of an imagined counterhistory that feels entirely real. (Kirkus Review (starred review))
Means delivers his long-anticipated debut novel, a compelling, imaginative alternative-history tale about memory and distress... By turns disturbing, hilarious, and absurd, Means' novel is also sharply penetrating in its depiction of an America all too willing to bury its past. (Booklist (starred review))
Unique, deeply personal and visionary, an extraordinary work of fiction, written in conversation with some of the greatest war narratives, from The Iliad to the Rolling Stones' 'Gimme Shelter'.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
This is undoubtedly an interesting dystopic vision but David Means overdoes the meta. Rather than capitalising on his original premise, he gives us a perplexing book within a book and bookends it with other people’s views including those of his imaginary author. This cleverly named novel may appeal more to a male readership or to anyone who likes a complex confection of conspiracy, drugs and violence served up in a dystopian landscape. But I'm afraid it was all a bit too weird – and wired – for me.
I really didn’t get on with Hystopia. The blurb made it sound interesting and a bit crazy but lots of fun. What a huge disappointment. I found this book long-winded, rambling nonsense for the most part. None of it made a much sense and I spent a lot of time being confused while reading this, scratching my head and starting at the book and wondering what am I reading? I’m not sure what didn’t work apart from the whole thing. Maybe the whole novel-within-a-novel thing isn’t for me? Who knows? I can’t even give specific feedback on what didn’t work. I just disliked the whole novel and the idea of it. At times Hystopia comes across as pretentious at times as if the author is sneering at us mere mortals and has a superiority complex. I’m sure fans will assume I’m not smart enough to understand Hystopia but whatever. Life is too short to read this kind of gibberish. Hystopia is a book you will either love or hate. This is not a middle ground kind of novel (i.e. I liked these bits but this part wasn’t so good), you will love it or hate it, no compromise. I hated it. I’m glad to see the back of it. I really didn’t enjoy anything about it and certainly couldn’t recommend it.
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The bulk of the text is a conspiracy theory story in an alternative history of the United States (clearly grounded in...Read more