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Total Oblivion, More or Less: A Novel Paperback – November 24, 2009
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
From Publishers Weekly
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“Thoughtful, ambitious writing and truly transformative reading.” —Small Spiral Notebook
"Wow! This is a wonderfully weird, fun, touching, heartfelt and memorable novel. Imagine if Huck Finn had been living in post-apocalypse America, and Terry Pratchett had been promoted to God, with George Saunders as his avenging angel. The world of this book is a little like that. In this case, the role of Huck is played by a sixteen-year-old-girl named Macy, whose smart, mordant, utterly convincing voice grounds our journey through this crazy landscape. Macy reminds us that no matter how surreal things get, there is still resilience and hope in the human spirit. Alan DeNiro has created a hilarious and terrifying dream world, but his real genius is that he's peopled it with characters we come to love."—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply, You Remind Me of Me, and National Book Award finalist Among the Missing
“In Total Oblivion, More or Less, Alan DeNiro lifts the modern family drama and sets it down in the middle of a wildly inventive post apocalyptic landscape. The insulated life of Middle America may be a thing of the past, but DeNiro finds a way to lead readers into a future full of humor, imagination, and hope.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
“There aren’t many writers who take weirdness as seriously as DeNiro does, and fewer still who can extract so much grounded emotion, gut-dropping humor, and rousing adventure from it. A dizzying display of often brilliant, always strange, and definitely unique storytelling.”—Booklist, starred review
Top Customer Reviews
At its heart, it's kind of a post-apocalyptic river journey (hard not to think of Twain here), as some kind of space-time rift has occurred and the United States has ceased to exist. Instead there seems to be some kind of empire, and there are Goths and Scythians roaming around, concentration camps, slavery, and a mutant plague, and all technology fails to work. The heroine here is Macy, a regular 16-year-old girl from St. Paul, who is heading downriver with her family (college professor father, sick and pregnant mother, older sister, younger brother). Various calamities befall them, they meet strange people, some of whom are helpful, some not. There are family issues. There's a talking dog.
For me, the whole thing was just kind of a mess. Because I couldn't work out the timeline of what had happened (at some points it sounded like society crumbled a few months ago, but in other parts, it had to a have been at least 5-10 years), nor the geography, nor the players involved. And without that grounding, the mission that Macy eventually undertakes has very little meaning. It's hard to tell if the author just had it all clear in his head and couldn't get it on the page, or if it's deliberately confusing. Either way, I never found a way into caring about Macy or any other characters, and so the book didn't work for me.
"There were tall white birches lining the eastern shore, their bark like an albino's skin. They seemed like trees from a different place - but then I remembered that we were in a different place. And anyway, we'd never be going back to these birches. Few things from the journey would really be remembered. But maybe I would make a point of remembering the birches, because no one else would." -pg 152-153
Cell phones, computers, universities, strip malls, and all modern conveniences are gone. The Mississippi River has become as deep as an ocean housing submarines, whales, and other deep sea aquatic life. The states no longer exist by the names we know and English is not the language spoken by all. On the shoreline roam giraffes, and horse-mounted warriors called Scythians who battle for power with the new leaders called the Empire.
Despite there not being an America anymore, the American spirit is strong with average-citizens-now-turned-refuges taking whatever is available and starting fresh. New professions and businesses emerge in cities that should be familiar, but are unrecognizable due to the plague that ravages society, the shifting environment, and various governments fighting for control.
"I kept thinking, well, maybe all of this trouble will pass over, and electricity will start working again, and the Scythians will retreat to wherever they came from, and the Empire will give back their land, too, and people will be able to use their cars again and drive wherever they want to, and the government will find a cure for the plague, and we'll go back to St.Read more ›
Yeah, it's a bit of a weird book, and honestly, if you aren't into these kinds of weird books, then you're not going to like it much, because weird things do happen. I mean giraffe randomly appears at one point and then a dog starts talking. It just gets all kinds of weird and I truly do just enjoy it.
Although I did find it a little difficult to figure out where the dialogue begins because there aren't any quotation marks (or at least my version didn't have any), but I got into the groove of things son enough. Still though, would've loved me some quotation marks.
So if you're into a weird books and want to read something that isn't about kids and teenagers forced to be heroes, than you're for sure going to love this.
This is a wonderful book of misplaced history, fantastical events, and a human being (Macy) coming to grips with her life and her family. And really, isn't life like that for all of us, all of the time, anyway? Who knows what amazing thing is coming down the pike for any of us. You just have to deal with it.
I loved this beautifully written little book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Total Oblivion, More or Less: A Novel by Alan DeNiro is a "Must Read" in my opinion! I loved the writing style, flow & story. Read morePublished on June 10, 2014 by Tabatha Howay
As I was reading, I couldn't decide if the book was written by a 12-year old with a wild imagination (and a total disrepect for parents/siblings in general) who was given a... Read morePublished on January 25, 2010 by C. W. Malone
The book would have been much better if the author explained at least some of the different Empires/tribes, etc. Read morePublished on January 19, 2010 by nalla1
I did a search for Minnesota authors and discovered this book. I bought it on a whim because as a Minnesotan, I'd like to see what people in the area are writing. Read morePublished on January 4, 2010 by N. Peterson