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Walking talking living dullThe Subject SteveSam LipsyteFlamingo 999 pp272A caption writer for silicon companies Steve the narrator of Sam Lipsytes satirical novel is a sardonic self-deprecating man in his late thirties given to faking fits in order to get out of any difficult situation He is a careless parent whose daughter when he calls her to break the news that hes dying replies Please Daddy dont say that What if this is the last time we speak and hangs upSteves recently diagnosed terminal illness is greeted with both morbid fascination and shocking indifference even by his own doctors who look into their patients eyes and see only their own futures glittering Youre dying quite quickly The rest is a mystery better explained in our upcoming book The value of his malaise and the nub of the novel is that Steve is dying of something utterly new He has no symptoms and feels fine he is quite literally dying of boredom Steve is the first person to have terminal ennuiLipsytes novel his debut is an all-American tale in its twenty-first century form ironic experimental post-technological full of a world-weary nonchalance It is reminiscent of Douglas Coupland in its authorial style and contains echoes of Dave Eggerss A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius in its use or mockery of audience-reader interaction Whereas Eggers posited suggestions to his readers and asked them to reply to a published phone number Lipsyte creates a faux internet chatroom in which participants may and frequently do verbally attack SteveIn desperation and having exhausted his medical insurance the dying man joins a group called the Centre for Non-Denominational Recovery and Redemption Everythings a cult son the director reassures him If its not a cult its a man sitting alone in a room But being surrounded by people as bitterly cynical as himself highlights the novels weakness every character speaks with the same voice all are depressed comedians and dispirited nihilistsLipsyte has a gift
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