NK3 Paperback – 7 Sep 2017
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Brave, brilliant and barely speculative... Part cartoon and part allegory, it's tempting to call NK3 the first book of the Trump era. -- Chris Kraus, author of I LOVE DICK NK3 is either the last great Hollywood novel or the first great book of Burning Man... a strangely terrifying if celebratory novel of remnants, fragments, the nag of one's inner voice, and dim reminders of the dissolve that has become America. -- A. M. Homes * Vanity Fair * NK3 is nightmare and satire, thriller and warning. Crafted by a master storyteller, it is a haunting parable about civilization marching forward, while forgetting what it leaves behind. * Los Angeles Review of Books * [An] ingenious dystopian thriller... clever entertainment * Washington Post * Darkly satirical... At a time of alternative facts and a bend toward cultural amnesia, NK3 feels especially prescient. * San Francisco Chronicle * An intricate and cleverly constructed account of the aftermath of a North Korean chemical attack * New Yorker * Tolkin's mad world of imbeciles and cast-offs bears a cruel resemblance to our own, yet he approaches it kindly, with mournful pity. An inspired speculative satire, wickedly stimulating but soulful, too. It got to me, this novel. I just can't shake it. -- Walter Kirn As an existentialist horror story, NK3 tautly proposes a future that now, in post-factual America, seems closer than ever. -- Jon Robin Baitz Michael Tolkin is an L.A. Antonioni with a sense of humour. * New Yorker * One of the most wounding and satirical of all Hollywood exposes: dark and mordant . . . A nightmare rendered with icy precision. * L.A. Times on THE PLAYER * Tolkin remains impressive as a scorched-earth social satirist. * New York Times on RETURN OF THE PLAYER *
A panoramic vision - suspenseful, comedic, prophetic - set in a near-future California that has been devastated by NK3, a memory-destroying virus from North KoreaSee all Product description
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Three stars for atmosphere and scope of vision. Had excellent potential. But can't in good conscience recommend it, due to the caliber of the writing.
Center Camp, stretching out from Beverly Hills, is surrounded by a fence and controlled by a small number of people who are striving to keep civilization alive while drinking expensive wine and living in really nice houses. They are among the early First Wavers who were able to obtain rehabilitative treatment before the system was overwhelmed. Most people (especially people like writers and millionaires who had no practical skills) died or became Drifters and Driftettes. They aren’t zombies, but they shamble and don’t have much to say. Driftettes like to sweep and dance around naked. Second Wavers received belated treatment and are somewhere between the First Wavers and Drifters.
Some late First Wavers have a Silent Voice that guides them. Usually the Silent Voice — “the alienated echo of who you were” — tells them to lie about everything.
Erin is among the early First Wavers at Center Camp who use the DMV database to help match Drifters with their identities. When they verify that people once had skills that the community needs, the Drifters can join the community inside the fence and stop living like scavengers. The community then brands them and endeavors to restore their skills.
Seth Kaplan is a late First Waver who joins Center Camp after Erin verifies that he was once a doctor. And then there’s a young woman who was once a famous pop singer. She gets to join because, well, she’s a celebrity even if nobody remembers her.
Another faction controls the airport and hopes to find a pilot so they can go to a better place, if one exists. Outside of both areas is Hopper, who has been sent on a mysterious mission by someone he calls the Teacher.
Several other characters have taken new names (having forgotten their old ones), including AutoZone, Frank Sinatra, Go Bruins, and Pippi Longstocking. Some people are still around who weren’t affected by NK3, but they really aren’t welcome in the new world order. After all, they’re the ones who caused the problem. Killing them for being normal is the default option.
NK3’s carefully constructed future is full of interesting details, from the clothes that people wear to the mythology that explains an unremembered past. The plot … well, the story is so meandering that discovering a plot is a challenge. The novel is more a collection of amusing subplots that sort of come together, in the way that golden retriever puppies crash into each other randomly when they’re not running off in their own directions.
NK3 makes fun of committee meetings, the snobbery of privilege, the ephemeral nature of popular culture, religions and their various gods, the arrogance and shallowness of power, and people who believe a society should be organized by class membership. Oh, and fences. NK3 definitely mocks people who think building a fence to keep outsiders out is a smart idea.
The story of the pop singer gets a little strange as it nears the end (not that the story isn’t strange before that), as does Hopper’s story. The novel seems to be racing toward a profound resolution that it doesn’t quite achieve. While some of the plot threads disappear in a way that leaves the story feeling incomplete, others manage to come together by the end. A mystery is solved and the story never loses coherence. NK3 isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it is consistently amusing and worth reading for that reason, and the notion that we are living our own mythologies (which is my takeaway from the novel) gives the book some modest literary heft.
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