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Zero K: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 281 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The plot itself has a surreal quality. Jeffrey Lockhart’s father and stepmother are immersed in something called the Convergence. His stepmother, Artis, is dying, and, through his father, Ross’s, wealth, she is going to be preserved in cryonic suspension to be awakened at some future time to resume her life when her health can be restored. The Convergence is not some tech lab in Pasadena — it’s located a thousand miles south of Chelyabinsk, the site of a 2013 meteor explosion. Its design and Jeffrey’s experience of it are enigmatic and a little unreal.
Everything in the novel is at this slight remove from reality. All of the characters acquire a questionable relationship to their own lives. As Artis says, “I’m someone who’s supposed to be me.” All of the characters are people who are supposed to be themselves, but are never quite simply themselves. Who are they are and what their relationships are to other people are always at question, unmoored, floating near the dock but untethered.
Jeffrey’s entire life is unmoored. He has no coherence in his career, his family or other relationships. He has an ambiguous relationship with a woman, Emma, whose son, Stak, is himself at odds for who or what to be. Jeffrey’s father, Ross, has even changed his name, has lost his relationship with Jeffrey’s mother, and he is on the brink of losing Artis. Artis herself is destined for a death that isn’t quite a death.
Jeffrey habitually tries to define words and find the right word for situations, to find a “secure placement” for his conscious life in relation to the world itself. It’s as if he is making a desperate attempt to pin the world down with words, to somehow attach that conscious awareness that narrates life to the world itself through the right words. But there is always a kind of buffer zone between Jeffrey and the world, a zone in which things can be transformed — names changed, pasts invented, facts rejected. Awareness swims in motion above reality.
A “convergence” would be nice, solving all of this. But that’s not going to happen.
If I had to compare this to another DeLillo novel, it might be Point Omega. It shares the same surreal, sparse feel, the same place that isn’t really a place where abstractions can be fully entertained.
If you wanted a neat story with an ending that wraps everything up, you’re not going to be happy. I liked the book, though. Its enigmatic quality fits what I think DeLillo is conveying, that, no, lives and identities are not solid and fixed — they are fluid and unclear, always at question, always requiring us to fix them to something if they are ever to become fixed and solid.
Most recent customer reviews
Thought provoking and real