Sunday, October 2, 2016

Square Wave by Mark de Silva

An overeducated security guard searches for a sociopath compelled to beat up prostitutes

Stories alternate then start to merge: The ubiquity and manufacture of porn; the weaponizing of rain clouds, ostensibly under the guise of conquering drought; the terroristic destruction of municipal landmarks; the origin of modern music; the messy European conquest of Ceylon. The desultoriness of an uncertain relationship. Over many pages of dialogue, characters discuss their situations.  The night watchman's search for the sociopath leads him to encounter many other phenomena.

After a rough start, not helped by forced prose that at times lacked clarity, I started to get into the erudite rhythms of this longish novel. The historical fiction sections were the best, about the colonists trying to get home and the wily Emperor trying to preserve his kingdom. There the varied characters felt truly three dimensional. In the rest of the book the characters toted explanatory billboards on their backs, even though, for the most part, these billboards were pleasantly interesting. Sometimes a unsettling whiff of misogyny rose from the pages, and I’m not sure if the stories ever truly climaxed or combined. Nevertheless, the book held my interest.

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