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Unfiction Paperback – June 18, 2017
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This was a sweet, silly joyride through a genre mashup. Oliver's aborted short stories were crisply written and had me craving more, but some may find the cut-offs irritating; they eventually coalesce, if that's any consolation.
Wilson, the literary man in the writers' group, urges Oliver to use his talents to change the world by writing Literature, not genre fiction. The established failings of romance, science fiction, horror, fantasy, and thrillers are presented via Wilson's constant derision and the rudimentary confines of genre conventions which are clearly presented as each story is told. Given the twee narrative of this book, I'm not seeing a case FOR genre fiction, except that it's comforting and offers its authors a plenitude of commercial opportunities. I nearly quit reading when an exceedingly jejune sci-fi ray gun shootout occurred, but, once I thought about the book as a whole, I understood why Doucette wrote it that way.
In the third act, as events were quickly leading to an unbelievable climax (as promised by the book's cover), Wilson remarks that if Oliver had only decided to write literary fiction, they'd all be navel-gazing on a yacht. I'm with Wilson on this one. I just feel like there was a chance for this novel to be a strong defense of genre fiction by doing more than poke fun or be ironic. Instead, the author took the YA adventure route, and it became pure pulp. Despite the bizarre events of the novel, it comes off as being circumspect.
To be fair, Unfiction makes no literary pretensions beyond mere entertainment value. That's the impression I had going in. Except for a few missed opportunities and a few imprecise reciprocal pronouns which briefly knocked me out of the story, I wasn't disappointed overmuch in anything. I look forward to reading more from Gene Doucette.
Anyone with a tiny background in classical antiquity will either smirk at the references or groan because they can see how everything connects from a mile away--and must wait for the story to slowly reveal itself to the uninitiated. Mostly I’m just saddened by the standards of America’s current education system. I'm praising the author here for keeping the Greek tradition alive in his own way. It's why I rated this book four stars instead of three.
This is another hit for him. Hard to describe without spoiling the story, though it reminds me of both of Stephen King's books "Misery" and "The Dark Half". Those are two of Kings nightmares as a writer, while this is more of Doucette's own writer's fantasy, and one which was very enjoyable to be along with for the read.
Of course there will be comparisons to the movie "Inception", I personally see more of the fun that I found college reading several of the dialogues in Douglas Hofstadter's classic pulitzer prize winning "Godel, Escher, Bach: An eternal Golden Braid", especially "Little Harmonic Labyrinth". Levels within levels and some of the very questions of what is reality and who shapes the world around us. Even reminding me of Neil Gaiman's "Dream of a thousand Cats".
The amount of time (and opportunity) to simply sit down and read for nothing but my own enjoyment seems to be be getting less and less, but I am very glad to have spent a few hours of my vacation time to enjoy another of Doucette's books.
Now where is the second Fixer book?
For those of you who want a little more substance..well, let's dive into this fantastic novel.
Unfiction proves why I always dance with impatience for the next novel from Gene Doucette. Unfiction is a novel from a fiction writer about a fiction writer who writes fiction for a fiction writers group that he never finishes and can't quite understand when things in his life start to resemble the fiction stories he wrote... Oh, and there are dragons and aliens. You know fictional things, but in real life. I'm sure there's a better way to say that (see book's blurb) but the result is a great novel that challenges how much you pay attention to details. I wasn't idolizing in the tldr review above when I say the author channels his inner Steven Moffat (writer for Doctor Who, Sherlock, etc for those of you who don't know "the silence will fall" seven year payoff) with clever details that both the author, the internal author, and probably the reader briefs through and then those details come back and have huge impacts later in the novel. Like the importance of almost everyone's name and a rock that come back and literally destroy plots and characters.
To sum up, this is a fun book that challenges the reader with detail retention and witty inner dialogue reflection and makes you question what is reality in this world of Unfiction. I want to say more but I don't want to spoil the book too much. The ending wraps up many things nicely but also in a way that makes you wish there was a sequel already to continue the adventure. Buy the book. Gene Doucette's books are always worth it.